I would applaud this as an objective for the next five years - Silverblue is a great workstation OS today, with
rpm-ostree enabling people to “get their work done” (by installing RPMs where necessary) while the Flatpak ecosystem and Developer toolchains catch up with the potential of an immutable OS. It has been transformational for me personally, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a low-tinker, high-reliability Linux desktop.
If this is to be pursued then the structure and position of Silverblue needs a re-think. The KDE and Sway spins of Silverblue have better websites than Silverblue itself, for example, and it’s a pity that Silverblue has been downgraded from having an equally-sized place with other editions on the website to a text mention in the footer. Externally Silverblue has an image of being somewhat “abandoned”, with the momentum existing externally (Ublue, I note, got some great ZDNet coverage which raved about underlying Silverblue features but doesn’t mention the OS once*). A re-design of the website has been discussed, fwiw, but it seems that this has languished (while other project sites have moved forward).
There are other examples, e.g. Fedora Flatpaks not being kept up to date (I don’t know if this specific issue is still recurring on new releases). In this issue I offered to help with the Flatpaks and was referred to the package maintainers documentation - but this is entirely about RPMs (not Flatpaks), and honestly I just started questioning the value of the Fedora Flatpaks in the first place (I’m now just using Flathub directly).
In my view, this is because Silverblue (and, possibly separately, Flatpaks) doesn’t really have a working group - or, at least, not one I could track down - and so it’s very hard to contribute. As an example, someone suggested on the Matrix channel yesterday that anyone could contribute a new website, which I could do (many people could do) but I don’t want to “waste” my time crafting a contribution without reasonably knowing that it would be accepted (who would even accept it?). I have also started discussions around what packages to ship with Silverblue, and when/whether to use the Firefox Flatpak - both have had some discussion and feedback (and might be bad ideas) but have otherwise sort-of languished, and this feels like where Silverblue is on any decision-making or direction (which is my perception, as someone that really likes Silverblue and wants to help, rather than necessarily a fair representation of what is going on internally).
I think there also needs to be a re-think on the messaging around
rpm-ostree. This is the “killer app” that turns immutable desktops from “a bit of an experiment” to “working, today, for most use-cases” - put simply, you can basically treat Silverblue like a Workstation installation, install most** RPMs you’re already using, and immediately benefit from the increased reliability and stability of an immutable desktop. Of course, we should encourage users to try the Flatpaks (and Toolbx) first - but
rpm-ostree along with the vast Fedora RPM ecosystem is a lovely, pillowy backup that you can fall back to if you just need to get something done. But this practice isn’t actually championed (indeed, I most often see it being discouraged) which leads to new users deploying dirty hacks (e.g. installing in Toolbx, then deploying many brittle wires back into the host -
.desktop files, etc) to avoid using one of the key USPs of the OS!
rpm-ostree is the path to Silverblue, it’s the key USP for Silverblue, and once you tell people they can bring most** of their Workstation setup to Silverblue they are usually much more up for the switch.
Anyway, I’ve tried to give some insight into what I see to be the obstacles to achieving this objective, without coming across too negative. @tpopela and @siosm (which, so far as I can tell, are Team Silverblue) have been really helpful on Matrix and on the issue tracker, and I’m grateful that they have kept the project going (seriously, I use this OS every day, and it’s been so transformational to my workflow I would really hate to go back to a mutable OS). I do think that if this objective is to be successful Silverblue needs distinct decision-making that builds on this, giving decisive direction to the edition, and giving contributors the confidence to invest their time (and if this exists, it needs externalising).
*note: this is not a criticism of the Ublue team. What they’re building on top of Silverblue is awesome, and the momentum they’ve built up is why they’re being awarded the mindshare.
**yes, not all RPMs work on Silverblue.