Should Fedora Spins be rebranded to Fedora Desktops?

With the proposal to make the Fedora KDE spin the new default for Fedora Workstation, there has been a lot of talk about how Fedora Spins are treated and promoted within the project. I have been thinking about what are some possible solutions to the KDE Workstation question, but I’ve also been thinking about what changes we could do regardless of the outcome of that proposal so that the spins feel more supported.

One idea is to rename our Fedora Spins to Fedora Desktops.

Why do this?

First, it’s more specific. Some of our brands mean something concrete, like Workstation or Server. Others are ambiguous, like CoreOS or IoT (depending on what you know). While most Fedora variant categories try to give some insight into what use case they are trying to address, Fedora Spins is unclear. We in this forum know that we’re talking about different desktop environments on the same Fedora Linux base. A new to Linux user may not know that, or think to avoid a version of Fedora they don’t immediately recognize.

Second, it puts a bit more respect on the name of the spins. Continuing from the previous point on perception, a seasoned Linux user who isn’t a regular part of the Fedora community may think that the spins are less serious. Maybe they’re less recommended “spin-offs” for the community members who want to do their own thing. While some spins may be more maintained than others, we don’t do ourselves any favors by preserving an umbrella brand that is not as confident as it can be. While Workstation is great, Fedora Desktops sounds like a more solid alternative to Workstation than Fedora Spins. I think that the spin maintainers would also appreciate the recognition, though some may not mind being called a spin. :slight_smile:

Third, it puts it in direct contrast to Workstation. One point that I will make in my KDE Workstation post is that I do think there is value in having a flagship version of Fedora. Regardless of what happens to that spot, having a name like Fedora Desktops next to Workstation makes it clear that the spins tackle the same use case as Workstation. If Workstation is the iPhone Pro, Fedora Desktops are the regular iPhone. You can put the two brands together and it makes sense.

Fourth, it pairs nicely with Fedora Atomic Desktops. If there are Atomic Desktops, where are the regular Desktops? We know that we’re talking about Spins, but someone who hears about Fedora Atomic and wants the not atomic version of that may not notice that Spins is what they’re looking for. Moving in the other direction, if we have Fedora Desktops, it becomes clearer that Fedora Atomic Desktops are the same as Fedora Desktops with something changed. Similar to the comparison with Workstation, the new brand would fit better.

What would the process of rebranding look like?

Unlike with Fedora Atomic, there is no room for confusion regarding how the spin names change. The shorthand will remain “Fedora Budgie” or “Fedora Sway”, but at least on official places or when introducing the variant it can have a nicer name.

Fedora Spins Fedora Desktops
Fedora KDE Spin Fedora KDE Desktop
Fedora Xfce Spin Fedora Xfce Desktop
Fedora Cinnamon Spin Fedora Cinnamon Desktop
Fedora MATE-Compiz Spin Fedora MATE-Compiz Desktop
Fedora i3 Spin Fedora i3 Window Manager
Fedora LXQt Spin Fedora LXQt Desktop
Fedora LXDE Spin Fedora LXDE Desktop
Fedora SoaS Spin Fedora SoaS Desktop
Fedora Sway Spin Fedora Sway Window Manager
Fedora Budgie Spin Fedora Budgie Desktop

In writing this I noticed that we do already list all of the spins as Desktops. So really we just need to commit to the brand.

A potential rebrand I think would help in bringing clarity to what the spins are, but I also think it needs to translate to the website. Besides the brand change helping newcomers better understand what these Fedora variants are in relation to their needs, we should add something near the top of the Workstation page that lets folks know that other Desktops exist. Small tweaks on the website can go a long way to helping people learn about these other spins.

The last component to a rebrand is an announcement. It makes the change official and encourages people to start updating their language. Over time we stop calling them “spins” and start calling them “the desktops.” The marketing in social media posts would adopt the language as well, similar to how we try to emphasize “Fedora Linux” instead of just “Fedora.”

The initial feedback I’ve received has been positive. Here’s a big post to outline the idea to get more feedback and see if it will be the first step in an exploratory phase for making this move. What do you think?


Mostly, of course, this is just marketing. However, I think that it provides a potentially valuable service by making it clear that all of them give you everything you need, instead of being lesser versions of Fedora as calling them “spins” may imply to people who aren’t yet familiar with what we’re providing.

i3 and Sway Spins should also be called i3 Desktop and Sway Desktop.

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It was confusing to me at first. I thought spins were something totally different from workstation and the “Editions” category. Having “Editions”, “Spins”, “Labs” and “Atomic” just doesn’t convey well with what they are in my opinion.

Idk if its assumed people coming to the site know a little about Linux already, but if the goal is to bring people new to Linux I could see how things not being clearly defined could confuse and overwhelm. Not everyone thinks its a fun time to read a bunch documentation and figure it out.

I guess I second your proposal the simpler the better. Names with clear meanings I think is the best bet. Fedora is really dope so if we can lower the barrier to entry with a simple change like this I think its a great idea.

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I fail to understand if this change is proposed as a solution to the referenced “KDE proposal”, or an independent one.

If it is a completely independent proposal, then sure. Desktops might be better from a marketing perspective and clearer as to exactly how X is different than Y spin, but the KDE proposal reference is irrelevant and confusing in this scenario.

If it is a proposed solution to the issues the KDE proposal highlights, like the limited discoverability and the perceived idea of it (and others) being second-class citizens, then I think this completely misses the point and becomes a “potato-pota(h)to”. The bigger issue on that front is that everything else (other than Workstation) is being piled away somewhere in a different page. The only way to make the suggestion relevant to this issue would be if Workstation would also be rebranded to Fedora Gnome Dekstop, but I don’t think this is what is being suggested here either.

This was the vibe I got when I first came across “Spins” also it kinda feels like A 2000’s Disney channel way to name something. :upside_down_face:

I’m all for making this more structured and obvious to the uninitiated, and having an umbrella term “Fedora Dekstop”, and then “Fedora x Desktop” or “Fedora Desktop x” within certainly makes sense. Two caveats, though:

  • Atomic variants are desktops, too. So, would we have “Fedora x Desktop” and “Fedora x Atomic Desktop”? Somewhat long but crystal clear.
  • Current “Workstation” is the Gnome desktop variant, and we have to name it “Fedora Gnome Desktop” if we go that route. (I’m all for it, not all will be …)

The term “workstation” can mean many things to many people. We have a defined meaning now, but if we use both “workstation” and “desktop” they seem to name different things, which is not true in our context. And, keeping with the iphone analogy, having “Workstation” mean the professional version of a “Desktop” completely negates the aim of this proposal as I understand it, i.e. having all desktops on the same “branding level” both visually and in terms of quality connotation.

Maybe, as a practical compromise, we can have “Fedora Workstation” == “Fedora Gnome Desktop” spelled out and used in enough places to make both the structure clear and profit from existing brand exposure.

This is an unhelpful comparison. It implies that the desktops are a “weaker” experience than Workstation, which I’m sure you’ll find plenty of the desktop experience developers who firmly disagree.

Also, this comparison breaks down when you consider that the reason Apple does that is specifically because it’s for scaling down the same experience. Each of these experiences are different ones, so the analogy does not hold.

At this point, I’d lean toward actually renaming it rather than confusing people with a dual name explanation.

I’m not in love with “Workstation” as a name, although we’ve spent some time building up recognition for it.


There are tiers

The Editions are asked to go through more effort, and generally have larger teams and resources behind them. I think the KDE SIG is in a position to support this, which is why I support the idea of having two options in the desktop space — but I don’t think every desktop environment in Fedora is.

With the exception of KDE, all of the Spins are non-blocking. We have explicitly decided that they are a lower focus for the project overall. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, or that they won’t work, just… maybe the out-of-the-box experience isn’t as tested, so we can’t stand behind it in quite the same way.

We don’t want new users — or reviewers! — picking one at kinda random, and basing everything on that.[1]

We want to put the most polished foot (or feet!) forward. At the same time, we want to make it possible for a small group (or even just one person!) to put together an offering if it’s something they want to do — and it’s not fair to put them on the hook for such a thing (or try to scale up the Quality team to handle it all).

It’s not that Spins should be cast to the outer wastes, or hidden in the cellar behind that sign that says “Beware of the Leopard”. But we should present the Editions first, and present the other desktop variants with the right expectations.

A few more thoughts in no particular order

It isn’t just the desktop environment, but integration up and down the stack. The way we’ve set things up allows for different spins to be more experimental if they want. I think that if we put everything under a “Fedora Desktops” brand, we would want to require things like Wayland, Wireplumber, upgrade tooling, and even software installation to be consistent — more horizontal integration, if you will. I think that would hold everyone back.

I’m okay with putting “GNOME” in the name of what is the current Workstation offering, but users should understand that we put in a lot of work at the Fedora level — we’re not just a conduit or middeman software store. I think having a distinct name helps with that.

I’m open to having a new option for desktops which aren’t those main Editions we present at eye level but which do have a committed team, run through quality validation every release, keep up with changes across the distro, and fix problems quickly. But it seems… complicated. (Like, do we do “gold”, “silver”, “bronze” labeling? Something like that would be more than a little at risk for future hurt feelings and conflict.)

What to do with “Labs”? We had previously decided to do away the with the name, but it seems to have stuck after all. (I’d like to move these to post-install software sets rather than install media, but doing that will be a big project.)

But most of all

Over the next few years, we explicitly want to make the Atomic Desktops the main offerings. This is something we’ve set in strategy2028. With the new work on bootc and the more-ublue-like approach that brings, I think this is within reach.[2]

So, personally, I’d rather just keep the Spins branding for what we have now — and for the future too, for everyone who wants to make some experimental non-Atomic system (desktop or otherwise).

  1. I remember one review which was basically bashing us because they didn’t like the Cinnamon desktop in Fedora compared to Linux Mint. ↩︎

  2. And: we don’t need modules to build Flatpaks anymore, and zstd-chunked OCI images are on the way. ↩︎


Fedora Desktops brand

In first thought it sounds good, but…

Having both Workstation and Desktops is going to be more confusing, even hurtful. For non-native English speakers Workstation mean a PC for work, not for general use, not sure for native English speakers.

After clearing that, I think we should stick to offer ONLY ONE DEFAULT DOWNLOAD, and worse than we have now, I think we should have something like debian, just a download button that get you the ISO[1]


Another thing that is worth considering, as mentioned by Matthew, is not all Spins are worked the same, I’m not sure if saying they doesn’t deserve the same level is fair, but being the maintainer of a spin, I know for sure that my spin is not at the same level of KDE.


Having that said, I think we have had more than enough about the GNOME vs KDE discussion and all the complaints about “KDE is not as important” but “it’s more advanced” and “people can find us”. All spins suffers the same, the only complaining people is KDE. It’s exhausting, really. I understand that if you want to change things, you have to do instead of talk, but KDE is not even close to be the replacement of GNOME as the default desktop, and it doesn’t have anything to do with importance, technology or even with integration; it’s because of sponsorship, Red Hat, tradition and legacy.


I think than having a clear distinction between the different spins, like Matthew is commenting, Just requiring Wayland is going to throw more than half of the spins under the bus, I think only Sway and KDE have solid offerings with Wayland. Other technologies are more okay with that, like wireplumber and upgrade tooling, and maybe “Software Installation”[2]

Final thoughts

I don’t like the Atomic desktops (personal opinion, nothing bad with it, it’s just not my personal taste), so I will be sticking to my rpm based experience. But knowing that this is the direction we are going to have a redesign of the website is coming relatively soon, we should take advantage of that to make any change of the way we present our offerings, but to be honest, I don’t see a clear way. My best proposals are these:

  • GNOME Desktop side by side with KDE Desktop, changing the word “Workstation” from the official offering, and the rest of the spins as they are now. I’m pretty sure this is not going to happen.
  • Workstation as main offering, Desktops and Atomic Desktops well differentiated as alternative offering, but with a clear distinction that this doesn’t mean they aren’t good offerings.
  • Workstation as main offering, Desktops and Atomic Desktops, being these one a sub set of spins that cover some requirements like being worked by a WG not a SIG, having some technical offerings like Software Stores and the latest technological stack that use workstation, and Spins as being more like is community maintained in other distros, like Manjaro.

My last suggestion for that new rebranded site is to put the iso, just one click away, like the mentioned example of debian.

  1. Current experience in fedora’s website is 2 clicks (minimum, assuming you scroll down instead of clicking the version button) until you get the downloaded file ↩︎

  2. Unless we accept dnfdragora as a good software installation tool, that’s also going to leave a lot of Spins out ↩︎

Since this proposal is also oriented towards improving newcomers’ experience, I think the fact that right from the homepage one has the clear option to choose from between Workstation vs Server vs IoT vs Cloud, ensures a pretty straightforward decision.

If, on the other hand, Atomic Desktops will be the main offerings in the (near) future, maybe a transitional phase might be welcome. At this moment, a new to Linux user might be confused by the following references to Atomic Desktops, both from the website:

“The Fedora desktop experiences you know with an additional layer of security and reliability”


“These editions are supported but not yet a part of the official Fedora editions.”

If those are more secure and reliable, why aren’t they official editions yet, one might ask.

Wouldn’t a “Not sure which Fedora edition is right for you?” kind of guided workflow on the website give each edition or spin a fair chance to be chosen? And the new user a better chance of finding the right flavor?

If we’re going for a rebranding, I’d rather be explicit. As others mentioned, Fedora Desktop isn’t terribly clear, especially when juxtaposed with Workstation. It’s also not really accurate - the Spins fundamentally serve the same usecase as Workstation, but they leverage a different DE to do so. My suggestion would be to keep Workstation, but qualify it: have “Fedora Workstation with GNOME” and “Fedora Workstation with KDE” (and use the same convention for other Spins, though I agree with Matthew that not everything should make the cut above the fold). If we believe that would be confusing, maybe “Fedora Workstation (powered by GNOME)” and “Fedora Advanced Workstation (powered by KDE)” (for disclosure I’m a GNOME user myself, and I mean “advanced” as “more customizable/for power users” here).

Conversely, we could use a task-based naming for Labs (i.e. Fedora Linux for Astronomy/Neuroscience/etc), which IMO would make it a bit more clear to users these are usecase-focused.

I’m not a native speaker either, though I’ve lived in English speaking countries for pretty much most of my adult life. I think the connotation is the same - so yeah if you ask people to choose between Workstation or Desktop that might accidentally nudge people to choosing Desktop for a home PC just because of the connotation (mind you, apparently KDE is better suited for a gaming PC as they already support VRR?)

On the meaning of workstation – workstation - definition and meaning

workstation /wûrk′stā″shən/


  1. An area, as in an office, outfitted with equipment and furnishings for one worker and usually including a computer.
  2. A sophisticated computer used for a specific purpose, such as software development or imaging.
  3. A desktop computer, normally more powerful than a normal PC and often dedicated to a specific task, such as graphics.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

All seem to be work related as you mentioned.

Following Debian here is not necessarily a good idea - and I say this as someone who also contributes to Debian.

For the longest time (until recently when the project finally passed a GR allowing firmwares to be used by default) - that default download simply was not what most Debian users actually need. And I think this illustrates the issue with having only a single choice made prominently available - it just won’t suit everyone’s need.

Last I checked, the Debian download page also does not detect what architecture you’re currently running - I remember being amused when I wanted to set up a Debian VM on my aarch64 Mac and being offered the x86_64 ISO by default.


That’s not bad, I mean, I get what you’re saying, but in my case e.g.: I never download the iso from the machine I will install, usually use another one to download and create the USB stick

That’s a wording bug — it shouldn’t call non-edition variants Editions — but, also, really shouldn’t imply that the goal is to graduate every variant into an Edition.

In any case, we should say what they are, not what they aren’t. I suggest we replace that phrase with “A showcase of desktop environments using Fedora Atomic technology” or something.


This is pretty much the sense we were going for with the name choice. We wanted to tell people that it’s a powerful and sophisticated environment, and that we intended it to be tailored to be specifically good for software development and similar tasks.

However, despite the overall success of the Three Editions strategy (as it was at the start), I think it’s fair we to say that we never really captured that segment. It’s still an important part of our user-base, but I don’t think it’s really our main marketing direction. (Does anyone from Workstation Team or Marketing Team disagree?)

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I’m good with that. I thought that i3 and Sway users might be upset with having it called Desktop, but I agree that it makes more sense.

I’m suggesting this independently of what happens with the KDE spin. The KDE SIG feels like Fedora KDE doesn’t get the same treatment in promotion or recognition as Fedora Workstation. Other spin SIGs may feel similarly. Fedora Desktops is an attempt to improve the situation for all spins. I’ve spoken with the KDE guys and this alone is not what they’re looking for, but I still think it’s a valid option to explore for the rest of the spins.

When it comes to Fedora Desktops vs Fedora Atomic Desktops and the individual names, I think most do fall into the paradym of Fedora x Desktop and Fedora x Atomic (Desktop), though not exactly. I assume the idea is to update the Silverblue and Kinoite names. I have been hearing that as a point of feedback since the Fedora Atomic rebrand, but for the sake of not reopening the discussion on that side I’d like to leave it alone. But something to think about right now in this exploratory season for how we organize our image brands.

For the second point, I’ll add this part which I should have added to the original post. This idea is specifically regarding the spins and not touching the Fedora Workstation brand or how it’s set up. That’s at least the way I picturing this rebrand. I think having a flagship offering is good for Fedora as a whole. Now, if in the future Fedora KDE becomes the new Workstation or we end up with Gnome Workstation and KDE Workstation, that’s fine. They would exist in one tier and Fedora Desktops would be the second tier.

Which desktop experience is best is obviously a subjective experience - everyone’s got their favorite and has their reasons for why it’s top tier. The reason we would keep a tiered system for the brands is to denote support.

As I understand it, the reason we have Fedora Workstation and then spins is due to the resources that the Fedora Project can and does put into Workstation specifically. Those resources end up funneling in large part to Gnome and that’s why Workstation uses Gnome.

Fedora KDE, while not having access to the same resources, has risen to a similar level of support as Workstation. My understanding is that the original premise for replacing Gnome with KDE for Workstation is based in part on this stability. That’s what I would like to continue to reflect with the Workstation brand, whichever way it goes. (The) Workstation(s) comes with much more support from the Fedora Project than the Desktops.

I haven’t spelled this out anywhere, but this is part of what I want to cover in my post about the KDE Workstation proposal. Can we come up with a standard for what can be considered a Workstation vs just a Desktop. Otherwise everything can be Workstation, or everything can be Desktop. If we’re going to outright flatten the relationship of desktops between each other, that’s a unique strategic decision with its own pros and cons. My proposal for Fedora Desktops is a way to keep the current paradigm.

@mattdm I won’t ask you to read my whole reply, but based on your post we’re pretty aligned. I also agree that having Workstation separate is valuable. I am also thinking about what to do with Labs, but I don’t feel confident presenting any ideas yet.

Not to get off-topic, but I think Workstation is a strong brand currently that does communicate something about quality whether it’s paired with Spins or Desktops. Workstation sounds like the more powerful thing to use. We know that Gnome is not necessarily more “powerful” than other DEs, but that “power” is represented in the increased polish and support that it gets in comparison to most spins. I think Fedora KDE is also looking to communicate that they’re at a similar level, thus the proposal.


TL;DNR: Drop Spins. Call them RPM Desktops. Change Fedora Workstation to Fedora Desktop.

I skimmed a lot and several other people already made good points. I’ll try not to repeat what others have already added.

The “brand” of Spins is confusing. It is old, an overloaded term, and means different things to different people. Historically, we have never done a good job of controlling that brand, and as a result, it has a life of its own. I used to have a soft corner for Spins, but now I feel the name is confusing for everyone, old and new.

We need a single default option. Offering multiple Workstations or multiple desktops as a default is a step backward. We went down this road ten years ago when Editions launched in Fedora Linux 21. I don’t think the original motivation for creating Editions is outdated and it holds weight even today. We know we want a clear, single default that we provide as our top-class experience. The experience we guarantee. Multiple experiences deludes the overall brand of Fedora and I would posit it makes us weaker as a project. We can’t be as strong doing several different things. We’re stronger when we’re collaborating together around similar deliverables.

“RPM Desktops” is verbatim but clearly communicates the traditional experience to those looking for it. It pairs nicely with the Atomic Desktops brand. For someone who is new, they likely would not get this far because we want them to use the default Desktop/Workstation. For someone who knows more about Linux, they will know exactly what we mean when we say RPM Desktop.

A single “Fedora Desktop” enables us freedom to choose whether the default is a RPM default or an ostree/Atomic default. It also gives us freedom to decide whether that is GNOME or KDE. I am not going to touch the topic of which desktop should be the default because I think it should be out of bounds for this conversation and there is already a TON of discussion about it already in other places. No need to bring it here too. Let’s discuss that somewhere else.

This was longer than I wanted, but I am confident that the Spins and Labs brands aren’t serving us anymore. Try all we want to redefine them and modernize them, but they mean specific things to different groups of people. We are always going to be in an uphill battle to break old perceptions. A new brand, like RPM Desktops, gives us a fresh slate to work from and also more clearly describes the actual deliverables we produce as a project.

Also, I do feel like coming up with a general rebrand like this will make conversations such as the default desktop experience easier to have.

Also also, I don’t like “Fedora Workstation” as a brand since I came to know more about how “workstation” is often used in the market. Today’s Fedora Workstation likely prioritizes a desktop experience first over a developer workstation. I could be wrong. But there are also a notable group of people to whom a “workstation” has a coded, specific meeting for a Linux desktop tailored to specific use cases. That might be for animation, scientific research, and other kinds of resource-intensive workloads that do require a desktop environment.

Justin (he/him)


I like the idea of RPM Desktop and Atomic, if I don’t know what they mean 5 minutes of googling and I’d have an ok level of understanding.

I have to disagree here. Workstation, does mean different use cases depending on who’s workstation it was, but it is still a workstation. To give some context to my claim. In many Turn-key solution provider roles I have had, there were technical people happily going about their duties using their “Workstations”. Some were mechanical designers using CADD, they usually had the workstations with the greatest gear, best graphics cards, gobs of processing power for rendering 3D representations. The electrical designers had good gear, but since they worked in 2D, not so good as the 3D CADD team. Us programmers, had a laptop and docking station (if lucky) because our workstation had to be portable for site visits.
My point is, the name of “Fedora Workstation” today means something and that something is different for many users, but it still is the same to the project. It is, along with the Server edition, the flagship release of the Fedora project and carries gravitas, both marketing wise and technically. I would be reluctant to drop it, and also reluctant to recreate it with a new DE since it works OOTB right now, and gives a consistent experience that is highly polished. The same cannot (yet) be said of the spins.

On the topic of the Atomic variants, and their relation to traditional package manager based systems, I think everyone gets hung up on the package delivery as the point of contention/confusion, when it really is the paradigm shift of “how to use” this type of Workstation, and it goes so much beyond just the package management. Plus the Atomic variants need a more descriptive representation of what they offer as benefits to the potential user, so the user can decide if that’s what they want.
I think it would be good if the public facing first download page did have the “Spins” more visible, but it should be obvious (on that page) along with a good description of why a user may want to select a spin instead of the traditional Workstation. But what to name them? Why not Fedora with (DE)? So Fedora with KDE, or Fedora with Sway, etc…

Maybe their designation is stale, but I think they are filling a need the project has.

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