Naming on os-tree based variants

This topic have been discussed in other threads like Trademark approval Request for Sway spin, but not clearly defined.

My opinion (I’m not humble enough to say “IMHO”) is that we (the fedora project) should define a name like “spin” or “labs” to these variants or finally decide if we are going to put all under an unique name like “Solutions” (see "Labs" and "Spins" — in the shadow of Editions? and Fedora Strategy FAQ Part 3: What does this mean for Fedora releases? – Fedora Community Blog ).

At this moment we have:

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I know that Colin Walters (@walters) (who created ostree and rpm/ostree, and originated Fedora Atomic Host) has suggested that we actually wind down use of special names for ostree-based deliverables.

I’m … still kind of wishy-washy on this myself. I think Christian (@uraeus) has a good point in the labs, edition, spins thread that having separate names helps users (and reviewers!) distinguish exactly what they’re looking at and what the expectations are. For example, while I know those of you who like tiling window managers really like tiling window managers, we wouldn’t want a reviewer unfamiliar with how those work to grab the i3 or Sway spins and then write “Fedora Linux 39 reviewed!” with a focus on “strange, intuitive user interface”. At the same time, we’d like users who want that experience to be able to find it quickly and confidently.

I’ve had conversations with a lot of people about branding and what “Fedora” means, and one thing I’ve been told a lot is that it’s hard to change people’s conceptions of what a brand means. I think the “Silverblue” name has helped with this. I’ve seen people out the beyond our normal reach in the Linux enthusiast spaces find an… identity, almost? Like, “I use Fedora Silverblue, btw.” And that in turn has helped lift people’s interest in the project overall, and allowed them to look at Fedora differently. I don’t think we’d have seen quite the same thing with a more buried-under-the-main-brand approach.

Continued musings following on from the above… I think that worked for Silverblue, but there’s definitely a risk of confusion in going too far and too small with non-descriptive names.

What if, instead of Sway / i3 spins, there were a “Fedora Tiling Window Manager Desktop”, and the details of x11 vs wayland or rpmtree vs not further choices within that?

I like this idea - it would place ostree-based variants on equal footing as the Spins - just a different button for the Download button on the respective page for each Spin. Though I wonder where Silverblue would fit - should it be under a Spin for “GNOME Desktop” with a rpm-ostree download button only? In which case the definition of Spin would have to be modified as it currently indicates an alternate desktop. Or be put as first-class option under the Workstation download page (probably not)?

Currently with Silverblue in a separate “Emerging” section on the getfedora.org is perhaps creating too many options (Emerging vs Spins vs Labs). Especially if other ostree variants start being listed in the Emerging area as well.

I suppose the other option would be for “Emerging” to be re-labeled as something more specific like “OSTree-Based” and having the variants in a separate page under that. I guess the question is does Fedora want to prioritize Desktop variation over Technology variation as the primary differentiator. From an end-user perspective I think Desktop makes more sense. Ideally the technology should be invisible/seamless to the end-user.

I’m wondering how attached Silverblue is to GNOME specifically. I think the Silverblue brand is recognizeable and distinguished. I think that is why many of the other ostree-based variants followed Silverblue’s lead by adopting a custom name for their own ostree-based variant. I wonder if we could leverage all the past years of brand-building around Silverblue by instead making Silverblue mean the collective family of ostree-based variants.

So, if this were implemented, future ostree-based variants would be named like this:

  • Fedora Silverblue with GNOME
  • Fedora Silverblue with KDE
  • Fedora Silverblue with Sway

And so on.

I like this for a few reasons:

  1. We don’t throw away the custom names completely. I think most people who install ostree-based variants already will likely know that Silverblue is an ostree-based variant. We can keep the brand awareness, recognition, and search engine juice for the Silverblue name, and in turn, make the names of other ostree-based variants stronger by using a more recognized name.
  2. We better promote the work of our downstreams through how we name our deliverables. When Fedora Workstation became a thing, we did that because we had a very mixed message about how a potential user could use Fedora. Workstation is our primary entrypoint for a typical desktop user. However, I don’t think we have to follow this approach for all our deliverables. I like using “GNOME” “KDE” “Sway” in the name of our deliverable because I also think it is recognition and validation of the work of our downstreams. In a way, it is an informal kudos through attribution.
  3. Let’s say in a faraway future, we offered today’s Silverblue alongside Fedora Workstation, it wouldn’t be too hard to explain that “Fedora Silverblue with GNOME” is now a part of a “Fedora Workstation” offering. I don’t know if this would happen and I don’t have a vested interest one way or the other, but it would give us that future flexibility. The Silverblue brand would still remain.

If this ended up being successful, then we could potentially try this out with Spins. “Fedora Spin with KDE”, “Fedora Spin with Sway”, and so on. If we took this approach, then a Fedora Spin could then take on the meaning of any traditional Linux environment with a desktop variant other than GNOME.

A weakness of my approach is that it doesn’t offer a strong model for Fedora Labs, which are more discipline-focused versions of Fedora instead of repackaging work from one specific upstream community.

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+1

I think this would be the best option for Fedora

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But I think this runs against the problem Christian brings up, and which I allude to above. Bringing very different things all into one brand increases the chance of a reviewer focusing on one of them but treating that review as covering everything.

I guess it depends if we assume that “Silverblue” is the generic name for saying “OSTree-based spin” or if we assume that “Silverblue” indicates a specific ISO file.

IMHO, we should use “Silverblue” in the first sense, to the point that the GNOME media should be distributed as “Fedora Silverblue with GNOME”.

I don’t think it’s either of those. I would say: “SIlverblue” represents the work of a specific group of people who had the idea to make an opinionated GNOME-based Fedora Linux flavor using ostree, flatpak, and container technologies.

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Ok then, I understand now your point on the confusion that would be created by such a name.

I guess we could use a different name then for to identify OSTree-based Fedora editions. Let’s say we use “Immutable”, so it would become:

  • Fedora Silverblue => Fedora Immutable with GNOME
  • Fedora Kinoite => Fedora Immutable with KDE
  • Fedora Vauxite => Fedora Immutable with XFCE
  • Fedora Sericea => Fedora Immutable with Sway

I picked “Immutable” as a placeholder for writing such examples, but I’m starting to like it (maybe pre-poned to “Fedora”, such as “Immutable Fedora with X”). But, it could be substituted with any other string of characters, imho (examples could be: “Layered”, “OSTree”, “Atomic”, “CoreOS”, …)

I would like to spend more time outlining the opinion I’m about to give, but I did want to put this idea out there to be considered as this conversation continues.

Hot take: Silverblue, Kinoite, and future names for the OStree spins are cool codenames that should be kept. We should not discount the cool factor of having unique brands that our contributor and user communities get excited about in favor of functional names that explain themselves clearly at the cost of being boring.

Might be a spicy take. ‘Silverblue’ just sounds cooler than ‘Fedora OStree with Gnome’. The latter is hardly even a brand.

That being said, I do agree that we don’t have a marketable name for the immutable desktops. Referring to it as ‘the immutable spins’ or ‘the OStree spins’ is not any clearer to someone who doesn’t already know what those things are, and it’s not an engaging name in itself. For this case I think we can bring back ‘Fedora Atomic’ as the umbrella term to refer to our immutable desktops. It’s a more interesting name that you’re going to have to explain anyway. ‘Silverblue’ would be similarly meaningless, but users got educated about what it means and now it’s not really a problem.

In this scheme, Fedora Atomic is the brand for the product line but we still keep the unique names of each of the spins. There would be no Fedora Atomic that you could download. Fedora Atomic is just the name for the core idea of the spin. The spins you actually download are called Silverblue and Kinoite, and in those places you would have explanations for what each is. These and future distros would be part of the Fedora Atomic family of spins.

Another benefit of having these two layers is that it lets you not have one desktop environment dominate how people think of the distro. When people think of Fedora, they most likely think of Workstation. With the OStree spins people know that Silverblue is Gnome and Kinoite is KDE. Neither is given a preference in the marketing except based on which of the spins is more known independently. Fedora Atomic would not equal Gnome. Fedora Atomic would equal several options you can pick!

My impression is that the KDE gang doesn’t get as much exposure as Gnome. This could be a way of balancing that out while still using unique names that standout among the sea of options in Linux. The name Kinoite belongs to the KDE community. It’s not like on the vanilla side where there’s ‘Fedora’ and then ‘Fedora KDE’, where you need to qualify that you’re not using Gnome.

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A simple way to say this is: My goal is to make “image based, container focused systems” boring, not exciting. It should just in fact be the default. Having flashy names is counter to that.

An analogy I like to use is around cars. People often say “electric car” today as distinct from “car” which usually (at least here in the US) implies “gasoline car”. But I hope everyone agrees that for the sake of the planet, the goal is that “car” actually means “electric car” by default in the future.

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This is a great discussion!

There is risk of fragmenting the Fedora brand where it is no longer clear what Fedora means. I am not fully convinced on custom names for each ostree-based variant either. I feel like it disconnects the brand from Fedora and the upstream communities whose software we package. If I consider both the Fedora brand and the brands of our upstreams, unique names feel like a lose-lose scenario.

However…

This makes me wonder how the KDE Community talks about Fedora and Kinoite. My position on custom names could be swayed if our upstreams were really latched on to the custom names of the Fedora ostree-based variants.

I appreciate this especially because it is right, but the explanation and meaning is also difficult to condense into a name or title. How do we capture this succintly? I’m also not sure whether it is good for Fedora to hedge the Silverblue identity primarily to a group of people. I think we need a more tactical definition of the brand to avoid challenges like we have with Fedora Spins and Labs today.

It is amusing to consider the Fedora Atomic brand here. I would be curious to know what the overall perception of Fedora Atomic was back in its prime. If it was a positive experience and the brand is strong, then it could be effective to revive it. But if there were problems that gave people a lot of trouble and the brand is weak, then I would be cautious to revive it.

I like @fale’s idea, but “Fedora Immutable” could instead be “Fedora Atomic”.

However, we do want a clear default option for Fedora, depending on the kind of Edition someone needs.

Back in the day, it was a pain point when someone downloaded an out-of-date or broken Fedora ISO built with an alternate desktop. Sometimes, a Spin would get out of date from lack of maintainers. Bugs accumulated. This ended up being a bad user experience. When reviewers and publications reviewed Fedora, this bad user experience from an out-of-date Spin ended up being the face of Fedora for them and their readers or viewers.

Introducing Fedora Workstation helped this. People who wanted a Linux desktop with no fuss found it quickly. Fedora could focus its resources better on a single desktop experience instead of trying to equally promote 6-8 different desktop experiences of varying quality. I remembered that Spins and Labs remained published afer Fedora Workstation, but they were made available in a way where more advanced users or those with strong preferences could get their preferred environment pre-built.

In practice though, the way we are promoting Spins and Labs today does not give proper recognition of the great works and steps that a team of specific people goes through to publish a remixed version of Fedora. And when people do good work, we do want to highlight that committment to digital excellence (Freedom, Friends, Features, First).

Somewhere there has to be a middle road.

This is key from an engineering perspective because anyone would want adoption to be smooth, easy, and painless.

But for our brand, we need a middle road that helps us highlight the great work happening with Silverblue and ostree-based variants. This helps us get people excited about both the work itself and the people doing the work. Not just as users, but also as contributors to Fedora.

The ostree-based variants need some kind of separation with the brand, but I’m not sure yet what it could be. I am wondering about the Fedora Atomic brand now though.

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The custom names is smtg we have to limit. If it’s working for Silverblue, great, having a couple successful custom names shouldn’t mean now everything gets a custom name. One of my RH colleagues posted this today and tbh I have been working for RHT since 2004 now, am an active Fedoran and have been using Linux since the late 1990s and this is how I feel about all these new names for things coming out

Maybe think about cars since that was brought up. You have some cars that are branded specifically on some platform level feature like ostree eg Toyota Prius is hybrid, Teslas and Chevy Volts are ev only. So Silverblue is our Tesla. Then you have some that are the brand of the car… the Toyota Rav or the Toyota Rav hybrid… same car but they use the “hybrid” moniker to differentiate on a platform feature. VW Jetta vs VW Jetta TDI… same car, one takes unleaded one takes diese. You label the one that is atypical / least traditional with the moniker… so you’d label the OSTree ones w smtg. Could be “atomic” could be smtg else. If we see it as a next gen OS type we think is the future of OSes maybe we call it “NG” for nextgen. Or, if we see it as co-existing into the future we call it smtg else. But I would say use a short and sweet (tbh an acronym might be nice) to distinguish the verisons that are the same aa smtg else except ostree. Except I’d leave Silverblue and Kinoite. The other stuff, I’m sorry, it’s way too much, and it doesnt just complicate and confuse naming, it makes our graphics / logos / etc. way more complicated and time consuming!

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There are some people who are super engaged who will keep up with Fedora Zabblerox, Fedora BeefyRoll, and Fedora Pndalrious, but the long tail of users simply do not have time to keep up with this kind of abstract names on top of abstract computing solutions, they have lives outside of Fedora :smiley: We don’t want to just cater to the auto enthusiasts only but also to the people who just need to get from point A to point B, right?

Christian’s post also really resonated for me - we have an issue when the brand of Fedora gets one-to-one correlated with a specific payload and that impression applied to all of them. Having ‘editions’ was supposed to help solve that but it seems like there’s still an issue.

Is there any room to consider non-editions a little differently, to try to avoid this problem? Would that introduce new problems? Think of editions like

Fedora Workstation
Fedora CoreOS

whereas spins/etc that are not as formappy supported / tested / staffed would be not “Fedora Foo” but instead “Foo” powered by Fedora?

Kind of similar to the Fedora Remixes but we’re not saying Fedora Remix, we’re using the full Fedora brand, just emphasizing the Foo first in the order of words (too bad we dont have a genitive like structure in English so its not as awkward!) so a reviewer thinks to label it Foo first?

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Just my two cents.

Silverblue and Kinoite are well know - worth to keep.

+1 to the idea that the Immutable variants should have a collective brand to descript them.

+1 to the concern that each new variants get individual brand name is too
much

Is it possible that the Individual Name (which is now using the theme of minerals) will be refering to the Community producing the deliverable?

Thus at download page, the product will be listed as:

The Fedora Atomic spin with XFCE, maintained by the Vauxite community …

Found this old article from 2019 when the brand changed from Atomic Workstation to Silverblue. Not sure what prompted the name change, but still interesting.

These are the main interests I see in this discussion:

  • There is value in keeping the Silverblue name.
  • Our current scheme across Fedora is already complicated, so we don’t want to complicate it further.
  • Besides wanting to simplify, there is potential interest in having a main distro to point to among these spins.

It sounds to me like the compromise across these wants is to have Silverblue retake its spot as the official name of this family of spins in the same way that Workstation is the default for our regular desktop offering. That means that the new spin would become ‘Fedora Silverblue with Sway’ or something like that, and that would be the convention for any other DEs similar to what we currently do with the mainline distro.

Of course, if Silverblue wins out, we would have to decide what happens to Kinoite. I figure it would become ‘Fedora Silverblue with KDE’, but it could also be grandfathered in for the sake of smoothing over the name change.

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FWIW I’m +1’ing bringing back the Fedora Atomic brand for the immutable variants, and as discussed in other threads, pushing forward with the “Fedora Linux with {desktop}” and “Fedora Atomic with {desktop}” naming scheme :slight_smile:

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I like the idea of having the ostree moniker but that full nameis too long… but the maintained by the * community could be a byline or whatever. I think this approach has potential!

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Saying Fedora Silverblue with KDE sounds really weird. Like saying Linux Ubuntu with SuSE weird. :thinking:

[I would keep Kinoite]

Silverblue isnt the family name - Atomic is/was.