"Labs" and "Spins" — in the shadow of Editions?

In this other thread, I mentioned that the Editions strategy necessarily left some of the other things we do in the shadows. I also think that, as we are at the end of 2014’s “Fedora.next” plan and are now figuring out our next phase, we can do more for those parts of the project.

There are two different places this manifests, which I think require different approaches to address.

First, there are areas where there are technology overlaps. GNOME and KDE, Xfce, Cinnamon, and other desktop environments; Kubernetes and Mesos. Canonical has addressed this for desktops with “go be a second-class dervative distro if you want” – Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc., each have their own whole separate websites with their own independent domain names. (And Wikipedia pages, and Distrowatch entries.) That kind of separatation is not what we want in Fedora, and I’ll pretty fiercly fight back against anyone who says that the Fedora teams working on these things are “second class citizens” — but, sure, I am not oblivious to the way it feels sometimes. We could do this better.

Second, there are niche areas which are definitely targetted solutions for users within the mission, but which aren’t our chosen focuses. Former F-:cake: Brian Exelbierd (hi @bex!) liked to talk about Fedora for Llama Farmers — awesome, and we love it (:llama: :llama: :llama:!) but not something we probably want to make the first thing all users are presented with. Likewise, Fedora Python Classroom Lab, Fedora Design Suite, Fedora Computational Neuroscience. These are also all kind of sidelined by the Editions plan.

I know many people are confused by the “Labs vs Spins” distinction, so we officially dropped that naming (although not yet the websites, because… declaration and implementation are two different things). But the above split is really what that division is about.

This post was too big for a footnote, so I broke it out into its own thing. I don’t necessarily have a question I’m looking answered here, but as always I’d love your thoughts and ideas.

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I really hope we can keep both Labs and Spins in the way they are now. I feel like they are very well defined:

  • Spins: Variations of the workstation. Specifically different DE or graphical environment. e.g.: KDE, Xfce, i3wm…
  • Labs: Specialized editions defined by a topic/target. e.g. Design Suite, Security Lab.

The only variant that is hard to fit there is SOAS, that have a topic/target and also a very specific DE.

The “Solutions” term doesn’t fit the Spins use case, because they don’t offer a product, the product is the same as workstation, but with other DE/GUI, they aren’t Solutions per sé.

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I think they’re well defined in the community, but I’ve met folks outside (like neuroscientists that we’re the showing comp-neuro lab to) who don’t know the difference. I mean some of them don’t even know the difference between Gnome and KDE, so “spin” vs “lab” is completely alien to them :smiley:

So, I was hoping we could have it more on the lines of:

  • “featured”: the editions or whatever goes here (workstation/server/iot/…)
  • “all Fedora products”: lists everything, e.g. “Fedora for KDE” , “Fedora for Astronomy”, “Fedora for Neuroscience” maybe?

Edit:

or “Fedora with KDE”, “Fedora with XFCE”, “Fedora for Astronomy” (“with KDE” too, since these can be based on different DEs too? But I’ve not seen a lab image that also provides different DE based variants)

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One of the Labs, Jam IIRC, uses KDE as DE.

This just means that we need to improve marketing, not change to something that also won’t be understood by the “outside folks” because it’s not going to be properly marketed.

I was saying I don’t know a lab that provides variants based on DE. For example if the Jam lab provided a KDE based ISO and also a Gnome one. We don’t tend to do that yet (even though we can).

Sure, better marketing is always something we can do. That’s been a constant WIP for as long as I can remember. I think we’re just trying to unify bits a little here so that people don’t have to go to different places to find essentially similar artefacts.

Maybe I am also in a minority as a biased contributor, but I also like the terms Spins and Labs. We have invested a lot of time and energy into adopting those names.

I think there is wider recognition about Spins than we may give it credit. I am basing this observation from scrolling through the Twitter mentions to @fedora and @fedoracommunity today and seeing a notable number of people tweeting in sub-threads about Fedora Spins (and actually calling them Spins). I didn’t see this kind of Twitter chatter about Labs though.

In the big picture, I feel this is less a strategic naming concern and more about tactical implementation details. As @mattdm noted in the original post, we “technically” dropped the Spins and Labs names in 2019. But the problem is, we never updated our web presence, our documentation, and other important channels to actually reflect that. So the confusion was inevitable, and then the original proclamation lost its edge because one could assume it wasn’t really a true proclamation since our web presence was not updated. People building Spins and Labs still go through an approval process to get their Spin or Lab approved, using those exact names.

I’d like to see this conversation focus less on names and more about how we promote what we already have on our existing channels. The getfedora.org separation from spins.fp.o and labs.fp.o is confusing. Could we think about this angle instead of narrowing in on naming ideas to solve our problems with this timeless debate? :wink:

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Looking at the getfedora.org page, I see the three Official Editions at the top. Not sure newcomers will understand what “Official Edition” means to them. It does provide a brief explanation of the purpose of each edition and provides a link to learn more about them.

Next comes the two Emerging Fedora Editions, COREOS and SILVERBLUE. The page says these are previews of the future of Fedora which suggests these will someday become Official Editions and are on the development roadmap. I am surprised COREOS is still not an Official Edition. Would Kinoite go here or under the Spins?

Spins are pretty specifically described as a variant of desktop Fedora Linux. They do not have the “Official Edition” label, so they appear to be outside of the Fedora Project.

Labs are described as a curated special purpose software release of Fedora Linux maintained by the Fedora Community. Again no Official designation here.

I think the getfedora page is pretty good now as is. Maybe explaining more of what an Official Edition means would be good.

Note: this is already being looked into with the website revamp:

I don’t feel like we need to keep using terms because they’ve been around. The previous website was based on the fedora.next idea, and now that that phase has been implemented, I think we’re free to rethink how we want to do things.

When I tell someone they should use the Fedora Comp Neuro Lab, they ask me what a “Lab” is. So, now I ask them to try out the Fedora Linux OS customised for Computational Neuroscience, which brings up no questions.

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I think there is wider recognition about Spins than we may give it credit. I am basing this observation from scrolling through the Twitter mentions to @fedora and @fedoracommunity today and seeing a notable number of people tweeting in sub-threads about Fedora Spins (and actually calling them Spins). I didn’t see this kind of Twitter chatter about Labs though.

I think that the term “Fedora Spin” has value as it describes the process, the technical implementation of how one creates Fedora for their own needs. And as such it shouldn’t go away. But on its own it doesn’t really define categories of Fedora deliverables. It doesn’t explain what content is there, only how you get that content. For example, you would say: it is a spin, not a remix. At it is important information.

Thus I think we need this term, but we also need some other way of labelling various spins.

So rather than having Labs and Spins as separate categories, I would say something like:

Lab is a spin, which is designed for a specific function. And then “DE spin” is a spin for a generic use, but with opinionated choice of default apps and DE. And then we can have other spins. And you, a Fedora user, can also build just your own custom personal spin with the tooling provided.

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They are different/separate categories. A spin just refers to the Desktop environment, while a Lab is a tailored Workstation with all the necessary programs for a certain group of professionals or hobbyists.

But now it comes the tricky part. DE environments not have been always so various. It started with Gnome and KDE (survivors till today). Then later on, Gnome got rewritten from version 3 on.

The fans of Gnome2 forked it and new DE’s popped up as Mate, Cinamon etc. Those new derivatives of gnome have been some based on version 2 and others on the never version. Just over the time they got more compatible again with the newer versions.

KDE was since always the Desktop of the freaks, where you could solve a problem in three different ways. If you wanted do undo you just had to remember which way you chosen :rofl:

With this mentioned facts in mind, it is not possible to make every lab with whatever desktop environment we want. History and compatibility have to be taken in consideration.

To make it easier to understand the terms and the whole fedora environment, we could start with a man page who explains it more detailed. So the information would also been offline available.

sudo dnf groups list could also need some explanations, how we can match 2 spins or use a part of a Lab on a common workstation.

It took me a while since i understood the terms Labs and Spins.

Changing their names would not just confusing me, it would also mess up with other members brains I guess :crazy_face:

What gets even more confusing is when you realize different Labs use different DEs! Some Labs use GNOME, some use KDE, and I think others use Xfce. When I do go looking for a Lab, I usually forget which desktop environment a Lab uses unless it is explicitly noted on their landing page.

You say that you do not want the non-Editions to not feel like second class citizens. I know you mean that, and internally, I do not think we are treated that way. But to the world, it is not that way.

The KDE desktop is a blocker. If it has a major bug (or what some think is a major bug) all of Fedora get’s delayed.
And yet, most of the world doesn’t even know that Fedora has KDE. Fedora is listed as a GNOME distribution. And why would they think we care about KDE?

On our main page we have Workstation (GNOME), Server and Iot, up front and center. And then we list things that we say are not quite ready (CoreOS and Silverblue), which the world reads as Beta. And then we show the Fedora Magazine. And then with have Spins, Labs, and Alternatives.

So, to the outside world, KDE, is below Beta, is even below our Fedora Magazine for importance. It is on par with the alternative releases which we don’t fully support.

I’m picking on KDE, because that is where my passion lies. But the other desktops get the same treatment.

As you said, “We could do this better.” Yes we can.

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BTW, @armanwu (the same author who did the apps for daily needs series) is working on a Fedora Magazine post (it will probably end up being several) about the different Fedora Linux installations – Introduce the different Fedora Linux editions. If some specific terminology should be adopted, it would probably be good to let him know before the article(s) go out.

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Awesome! I thought of that a while ago, but I never took the time to write it.

I think the term is “Solutions”, since the reading of the post linked by Matthew in the original post.

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Yeah, here’s the policy document from that Council meeting. Some of the terms, like “Building Blocks”, we have not actually really used for anything. Guiding Policy :: Fedora Docs

It depends on how you look at it. I think there are “base building blocks” and they are the fedora-{live,disk,cloud}-base.ks and the fedora-repos.ks files that teams should use as base to build a spin or a lab. Is that the right view?

I just want to say +1 to the names “Fedora with KDE”, “Fedora with Xfce”, etc, as suggested by @ankursinha . I find the current Spins’ naming to be a bit clunky: “Fedora KDE Plasma Desktop”, “Fedora Xfce Desktop”, and so on, are a mouthful to say! Most people seem to just shorten it to “Fedora KDE”, “Fedora Xfce”, etc. “Fedora with [desktop]” just sounds nicer.

If we go this route, I’d prefer “Fedora Linux with KDE”, “Fedora Linux with Xfce”, etc. That’s because it moves from the [Producer] [Product] model (Chevrolet Camero, Ford Mustang, Red Hat Enterprise Linux) to [Product?] with [Technology]. Of course, as I said before when advocating this, there’s no point in fighting informal use. People gonna say “Legos”, not “Lego bricks”, and “Kleenex”, not “Kleenex facial tissue”. It’s fine.

I think it does give a nice model for the Spin / Lab distinction, though, without introducing new jargon. Like this:

  • Fedora Linux with KDE
  • Fedora Linux with Xfce
  • Fedora Linux with HTCondor (theoroetically!)
  • etc.

and

  • Fedora Linux for Robotics
  • Fedora Linux for Computational Neuroscience
  • Fedora Linux for Python Classrooms
  • Fedora Linux for Astronomy
  • Fedora Linux for Design
  • etc.

and, if we so choose, we can continue using [Producer] [Product] for Fedora Workstation, Fedora Server, Fedora IoT, Fedora Cloud, Fedora CoreOS, etc.

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I actually like the “with” and “for” difference. It does map onto my understanding of Spins and Labs.

Also does it mean I can have also “Fedora Silverblue with KDE”?

Ok, I know the Silverblue is a bit controversial topic on its own, but how about “Fedora IoT for Robotics” spin?

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It also opens a relatively big number of posibilities:

eg:

  • Fedora Linux for Design With Xfce
  • Fedora Linux for Design With KDE
  • Fedora Linux for Design With I3
  • Fedora Linux for Computacional Neuroscience With Xfce
  • Fedora Linux for Computacional Neuroscience With KDE

But still doesn’t solve the problem of exposure and relevance. As was stated before, KDE is a release blocker, but others don’t. So Fedora Workstation, as product, should be taken differently than “Fedora Linux”? Or there is a way to clarify that Fedora Workstation is no more than “Fedora Linux with Gnome”? How we reach upstream projects like Cinnamon or Xfce to say that they are very important to us if we have our flag product “Fedora Workstation” (and as I say before it looks way more relevant and important than saying “Fedora Linux with Gnome”) and not “Fedora Linux”?

The more real, raw and uncomfortable question is: How much damage or hurt is to accept that the real important desktop is Gnome and everything else is just community maintained?

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