Introducing Fedora Atomic Desktops

Original image by Daimar Stein

We are happy to announce the creation of a new family of Fedora Linux spins: Fedora Atomic Desktops! As Silverblue has grown in popularity, we’ve seen more of our mainline Fedora Linux spins make the jump to offer a version that implements rpm-ostree. It’s reached the point where it can be hard to talk about all of them at the same time. Therefore we’ve introduced a new brand that will serve to simplify how we discuss rpm-ostree and how we name future atomic spins.

Some may note that this is more of a reintroduction. Project Atomic was started 10 years ago with the development of Atomic Host. As the team stated back then, “the Atomic Host comprises a set of packages from an operating system (…) , pulled together with rpm-ostree to create a filesystem tree that can be deployed, and updated, as an atomic unit.” In 2018 we saw the start of Fedora Atomic Workstation, a desktop client implementation using GNOME, which became Silverblue a year later.

2021 saw the introduction of Kinoite in Fedora 35. Things seemed quiet for a while until last year, when we saw the release of two more rpm-ostree spins – Sericea in Fedora 38 and Onyx in Fedora 39.

Why a New Brand?

That leads to the first reason for needing to adjust our branding: more spins may come. We have four traditional Fedora Linux spins that do not yet have atomic variants. Some of these desktop environments are being experimented with, like Vauxite (Xfce) from within the Universal Blue custom images project. There are other desktop environments, like Pantheon or the upcoming COSMIC, that we would love to welcome to the community if contributors would like to make that happen. As this group of spins grows, we need to organize them under one umbrella.

Secondly, not having a unified way to talk about our atomic spins makes it harder to talk about them. Have you ever tripped over yourself trying to mention all four atomic spins, or using a shorthand for referring to them (ie Silverblue and friends)? It’s a byproduct of how unwieldy it is to have one spin, Silverblue, represent three others while also meaning something specific, an rpm-ostree implementation of Fedora Linux Workstation. There is also confusion about what aspects of these spins are shared. For example, some folks may be looking for documentation on Kinoite not realizing that an article about Silverblue also applies to their problem. Using so many keywords when you’re looking for information on the one aspect they all share is inefficient.

Thirdly, this nice branding term is also a more accurate way of talking about how rpm-ostree works. Fedora Atomic spins are not actually immutable. There are ways to get around the read-only aspects of the implementation even though it is much harder. The nature of the OS, where updates are only implemented when they successfully build and you can rollback or rebase between core host systems, is better described by atomicity than immutability. Atomic is also how many of the contributors who work on rpm-ostree prefer to talk about it! Rebranding provides an opportunity to change the language surrounding this technology.

The Good Part

Fedora Atomic Desktops is made up of four atomic spins:

Silverblue and Kinoite retained their names because of brand recognition and being around for much longer. There are many articles and videos made with the Silverblue or Kinoite brands, and we don’t want to waste those resources by making them harder to find with a rebrand. Sericea and Onyx are much newer and both SIGs wanted to switch to the new naming convention.

Going forward, new atomic spins will use the ‘Fedora (DE name) Atomic’ format to keep things simple and clear. No more questions about which name refers to what desktop environment. No more mispronunciations. Much more clarity on why these Fedora spins are different from the regular spins.

The new umbrella brand also gives us a new name to put alongside their rpm-ostree cousins! Fedora Atomic Desktops live alongside Fedora CoreOS and Fedora IoT as they all use rpm-ostree in serving different needs.

The Fedora Atomic Desktops SIG, and many in the community, are very excited about this change. We hope it makes talking and learning about this kind of operating system easier.

Click here to learn more about Fedora Atomic. Let’s start using #FedoraAtomic to streamline our conversations on social media too!

Fedora Project community

38 Comments

  1. Kagrenac82

    This is a good move. For me, Fedora Plasma Atomic nd Fedora Gnome (or Workstation) Atomic sounds also fine.

    • Missed an opportunity to go with Atomig and Atomik.

      • Jessikat

        In that case missing the use of Atom (aka Astroboy)

        • Glen Roberts

          “…No more mispronunciations…”
          WHAT??? Ok, I admit I’ve been away for awhile and just now starting to look into replacing Win10 on my really old boxes with Linux, but seeing these comments makes me wonder if I crossed into another dimension. I’m unsure if this is progress or just a different aspect of the same trainwreck with distros I broke away from years ago.

          Can I still get CPM from somewhere?

  2. WERNER Andreas

    Why only desktops and not all?

    Why only Sway and Budgie and not all?

    Fedora Silverblue –> Fedora Silverblue Atomic (or better Fedora Silverblue Gnome Atomic)

    Fedora Kinoite –> Fedora Kinoite Atomic (Fedora Kinoite KDE Atomic)

    ‘Fedora (DE name) Atomic’ should be ‘Fedora Atomic (DE name)’ for the whole rpm-ostree family to make it a real umbrella.

    Fedora CoreOS and Fedora IoT then to be

    Fedora Atomic CoreOS
    Fedora Atomic IoT

    • Darvond

      Perhaps I’m the madman, but I feel that installing different DEs/WMs/Desktops is trivial, and managing them is much easier a juggle than it was 30 years ago?

      Of course, I have a mere 22 installed, so…that probably breaks GDM in some nebulous way. Not that it matters to me, since I’ll happily use TBSM until it breaks.

      • Comrade64

        It is not nearly as trivial on an immutable distro. You would have to do so much layering with OSTree that it would be pointless and if you needed that level of flexibility you would be better with a standard imperative distro.

        I imagine this will change in the future as immutable distros become more standard. However, if you want to be fancy and have flexibility AND a declarative setup, you are better of with NixOS. That distro is hardly a “just works” situation, however.

        • Nelson

          Honestly, it is indeed quite trivial. Pin your current deployment to play it safe, rebase to your DE of choice, and layer the packages you had in your previous deployment: done!

  3. Andre Gompel

    Joseph,
    at this time, the only two (and very similar) Linux Destop I use are MATE and Xfce,
    the others are more or less OK but over complex, and changing all the time !
    Like most software engineers, I like MATE, but Xfce is OK

    Gnome Classic would be great if it was like MATE supportin Widgets, but it does not !

    Linux suffers of way too many options.
    Try to help a friend over the phone !

    Ideally a basic Linux MATE should have build in remote so a friend can help

    Any ISO (fedora Iso should be “life”

  4. John

    Would love to see Fedora Hyprland & Fedora Hyprland Atomic as a spin

    • secureblue

      John, you may be interested in my uBlue-based project called wayblue, where we are working on Fedora Atomic images for wayland compositors, including Hyprland:

      https://github.com/wayblueorg/wayblue

      • iRog

        I don’t know how he is, but I’ll definitely try. Thank you very much for your work)

      • Comrade64

        That looks very interesting. I hope this or something like it becomes an official part of Fedora. Hyprland first seemed to me like a just a neat project for people who care more about looking cool than having a functioning system, but it has really developed into perhaps the best tiling compositor for Wayland.

  5. Glad to hear that the Fedora atomic spins are now managed under the same umbrella 🙂 From my limited experience with Silverblue, however, it seems that the atomic desktops are still less stable and mature than their conventional counterparts, as Fedora Silverblue 38 completely freezes occasionally on my Lenovo Yoga S740 laptop requiring a hard reboot (switching VTs won’t work), prompting me to switch back to good ol’ Fedora Workstation 39

    • Sam

      It’s not a solution in any way, but you may try to enable magical key (SysRq) and use Ctrl + Alt + SysRq + to reboot the host in a more safe way.
      The key sequence is REISUB.
      Make a pause between key presses.
      R – grab a keyboard from any app uses it
      E – send sogterm to all processes except init
      I – kill all processes
      S – sync fs
      U – unmount all fs
      B powercycle

  6. Duartec3000

    Great news! For me this branding change makes total sense as an user of a non-standard atomic distro searching for documentation using the term “Silverblue” makes me miss a lot of articles/posts that were written for “Kinoite” or “CoreOS” for example while all I wanted was to find a solution for my “rpm-ostree” based distro.

    Going forward if Rpm-ostree = Atomic I think we all benefit, it’s even a better sounding word in terms of marketing and advertising than “immutable”.

    What I think was not a good decision is the incoherence between Spins naming convention, for me personally it’s a bit silly really I don’t think there would be a problem to have an official name and a short code-name like this:

    Fedora Gnome Atomic (Silverblue)
    Fedora KDE Atomic (Kinoite)
    Fedora Sway Atomic (Sericea)
    Fedora Budgie Atomic (Onyx)

    People would just reference a spin by either its official name or code-name according to context. (eg end-users documentation, dev team in gitlab, etc).

    Another more elegant solution was to pick one or the other and having all spins named with the same rules but well, we can’t have it all can we.

  7. ChrisHRD

    Unified branding sounds like a solid idea. Thanks for keeping Fedora Kinoite under the same name. For the last several months, I have been moving people away from Windows 10 to Fedora Kinoite (with very good success). Its nice to hear, that I will not have to reteach them the name of their OS. Might sound trivial, but any thing that reduces IT support calls is worth its weight in gold.

  8. helmet

    It would be even better to take a step further and rename the hat itself.

    Fedora Atomic Gnome -> Helmet Gnome
    Fedora Atomic KDE -> Helmet KDE

    cause always when people search for atomic they end up with pages for classical fedora.

  9. Sprocket

    I for one am excited to give Silverblue a try in the near future. Atomic / immutable distros are the way forward.

  10. Ed Borasky

    What a coincidence! I’ve been distro-shopping the past two weeks and settled on Onyx (now Fedora Budgie Atomic). I ended up blowing away Windows 11 on my laptop and installing Fedora Budgie Atomic.

    I ran Silverblue for a while a few years ago so I’m not a newcomer to the concept.

  11. richiedaze

    CoreOS ———-> Project Atomic

    Atopic Desktops
    Silverblue ——-> Atomic Workstation
    Kinoite ———> Atomic KDE Desktop
    Sericea ———> Atomic Sway Desktop
    Onyx ————> Atomic Budgie Desktop

    These should be the default names for their simplicity.

  12. Waethorn

    The new branding is welcome. I don’t like the Kinoite and Silverblue branding whatsoever and leaving it different from the other products is silly and introduces its own form of divisiveness.

    One thing I would prefer to see: package the desktop components as a container layer on top of a unified bare OS image (a Fedora Server-like image perhaps?), rather than including the DE components in OStree in these separate products. This would provide far better serviceability on images. All installs could have their base images updated simultaneously without requiring complete build updates on the entire image based on separately released DE-packaged products as indicated.

  13. Joe

    Give Silverblue, Kinoite and CoreOS a long name

    “Fedora Kinoite KDE Atomic”
    “Fedora CoreOS Atomic”

    In a few years you could cancel the Kinoite and CoreOS

  14. Plata

    Unifying Silverblue and Kinoite names would probably still be a good idea assuming that interest in Fedora Atomic will grow. I can understand the reasoning, though. So what about simply e.g. “Fedora KDE Plasma Atomic (Kinoite)”?

    Personally, I would love to see a Fedora KDE Plasma Mobile Atomic. At least this would be the name following the decision now. To me it’s somewhat strange that the name has no connection to Kinoite whatsoever.

  15. Marcelo

    When Silverblue started the justification for not calling Fedora Workstation Atomic, my only question was: WHY?!. And now I ask again: WHY keep Silverblue and Knoite?!
    If the naming is changing to rebrand and avoid confusion, so rebrand all. In my opinion much better add Atomic instead of creating more confusion, including Silverblue and Kinoite. Much more clear and really consistent to add Atomic to the already known names making it easier to even put in the Spins pages as something like: “Download the Atomic version” or even better put two download buttons the with “Traditional | Atomic”. Makes it easier and clear for everyone (!!!):

    Fedora Workstation Atomic ;
    Fedora KDE Plasma Atomic (in my opinion Fedora Plasma and Fedora Plasma Atomic would better);
    Fedora Cinnamon Atomic;
    … and so on
    Keep the Silverblue, Kinoite, Onyx etc as codenames

  16. I’m still going to call them Immutable. I know that many people were not fond of that but at least people know what it means. Atomic is meaningless. Sorry.

  17. saibug

    Still on Fedora i3wm 😉

  18. Landon J

    Honestly, “Fedora Atomic {Desktop Environment}” sounds better than “Fedora {Desktop Environment} Atomic”. The prior would be much easier to search for general rpm-ostree queries, and it just feels better.

  19. Jsmith

    What is the style/theme that is being used in the post header image?

  20. This is awesome news! As a Fedora user who’s been dipping my toes into Silverblue recently, I’m excited to see a dedicated brand for rpm-ostree spins. It definitely makes things simpler to understand and navigate, especially for newcomers.

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