Too many too similar distros

Going to getfedora.org . You hover over ‘get fedora’ at the top and now you have 5 different fedora distros to pick from. That is before even hovering over the list on the left.

What is the difference between server and cloud? You go to their pages.
They both say ‘container-based’
They both say ‘Open-source Ecosystem’
They both say ‘Secure’

One has a ‘tested against’ and the other has ‘partners’.

It is not immediately clear what to do with these two different fedora distros and what use cases they should be used for. There is at least enough documentation to tell that coreos is supposed to be some kind of immutable container host?

How is cloud different from coreos or even fedora server?

Thanks,
Matthew

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FWIW: https://youtu.be/j_NZzWTffFM?t=140&si=ztMyXCHYe9DvrkTD

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I can see how it is difficult to understand the Fedora Linux product line when you first get in touch with it.

I think, one problem is that many people are active in Fedora for so many years that they don’t question the complexity and nuances of Fedora products anymore, it’s taken for granted. I also think that your topic should be discussed in Project Discussion involving websites-and-apps-team and docs-team

I agree that it is completely confusing.

  • Traditional
    • Desktops
      • Workstation
      • Spins (should be easier to find)
      • Labs (same, even though kinda unnecessary)
    • Server
      • Server (traditional server)
      • Cloud (special images, ready to use, container workflow, …)
  • Atomic
    • Desktops (all on the same level, finally)
    • Servers
      • IOT (“the normal atomic server”)
      • coreOS (“the atomic server with the different setup”)

I think that overview already helps… the next question that may arise is how do Editions, editions, spins, and variants correlate to that?

For example, there is

  • Editions, which the website says are “Our flagship Fedora Linux variants”.
  • Atomic Desktops, which are “editions are supported but not yet a part of the official Fedora editions”. So they are editions but not Editions? Almost Editions? Are they variants?

The wording on the website remains confusing, but maybe that’s a personal thing.

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Added docs-team, websites-and-apps-team

The cloud versions are ready made images you can install on a cloud server such as AWS or Azure, or perhaps on your own Virtual Machine.

The Server version you would install on your own hardware, and you can pick and chose which component you want to install. If you want GUI, then you need the Workstation or one of the spins of your choice.

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That could be the text for the website explaining newcomers the Fedora Linux ecosystem. Just add a second sentence that there is an atomic version of each…

Matthew Jenkins mjenkins
May 22
Going to getfedora.org . You hover over ‘get fedora’ at the top and now you have 5 different fedora distros to pick from. That is before even hovering over the list on the left.
What is the difference between server and cloud? You go to their pages.
They both say ‘container-based’
They both say ‘Open-source Ecosystem’
They both say ‘Secure’
One has a ‘tested against’ and the other has ‘partners’.
It is not immediately clear what to do with these two different fedora distros and what use cases they should be used for.

It’s never easy to find the right compromise between providing enough information and being short and easy to read. But it’s not as undifferentiated as you write.

Right on the landing page neither Server nor Cloud say anything about container. That does only CoreOS. And Server refers to the data center and Cloud is clearly for running on various cloud systems.

What are you missing to make the intended use case more clear?

There is at least enough documentation to tell that coreos is supposed to be some kind of immutable container host?

If you click on „Learn More you get immediately extensive information

How is cloud different from coreos or even fedora server?

Well, CoreOS is container centric, Cloud is not, but more generic and universally configurable.

Cloud is optimized for running on cloud systems, e.g lightweight and on demand resource allocation. Server is optimized for installation directly on hardware or on virtualized hardware, characterized among other things by static resource allocation and long-term running.

What additional information do you think would be helpful without being overloaded or how could the existing information get improved?

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My tree is only one way to sort it.

Alternatively

  • Server
    • bare metal
      • regular: Server
      • atomic: IOT
    • Cloud
      • regular: Cloud
      • atomic: CoreOS
  • Desktop
    • Flagship
      • regular: Workstation GNOME & KDE
      • atomic: Silverblue & Kinoite
    • Spins:
      • traditional
      • atomic
    • labs
      • traditional
      • (no labs for ostree yet, I think this would be great)

(Preempting a certain Change Proposal :wink: )

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I dont fully get the difference between IOT and CoreOS. Arent they the same just using different setup methods? How would Anaconda work with a normal server setup without a GUI?

Server is not specifically for home, but for data center or server rooms. Home is additionally a special use case.

IOT is edge computing and Internet of Things. CoreOS aims at the data center, but can be used for home as well.

Anaconda is for initial installation only and brings their own GUI for that. And it is only for Server, not for IOT or CoreOS. After installation, there is Cockpit for a web-based administration GUI.

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There are overlapping use-cases for some things, but CoreOS is driven by ignition, so assuming you’re after something atomic, if you normally deploy with cloud-init or run OpenShift OKD, that’s probably what you want. In a nutshell, IOT is more like an immutable/atomic version of Fedora Server.

The main difference between Fedora Server and Fedora Workstation is the initial package set. Fedora Cloud ships as a small, minimalish VM image that you will presumably launch with cloud-init or otherwise ssh into - eg, for running in EC2, VMWare, etc.

The at home, data center, edge use case thing is ultimately up to the user/admin. IOT is designed for edge, but no one is going to break down your door if you install it on an HPC, etc.

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There is only one Distro, it’s a platform though as it can be tooled up differently, but you can also just use Server or Workstation if you want to get going fast, or one of the Spins/Variants/Labs. All of these (Editions/Spins/Labs/Variants) have a targeted use case range, and often an opinionated take on the Desktop, etc…

thanks, changed the wording.

IOT has an Anaconda installer, I guess if there is no graphical.target or something it automatically goes into some CLI mode and can possibly also use a kickstart file?

I am not sure I get the difference between IOT and CoreOS. Both have Podman, dont they?

No, Fedora is the brand. Each of those are a distribution of linux, of which they all use the Fedora brand. Software distribution - Wikipedia

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The above the fold part of each doesn’t give enough info to make any kind of decision.

The above the fold part for coreos gives the impression you would use it for containers. Not a host for containers.

Above the fold - Cloud says it is for VMs, but so does server. ‘Lightweight vm’ vs ‘baremetal or vm’.

Cloud doesn’t have a ‘learn more’. It has 'documentation, which takes you to the rtd page which doesn’t really help tell you how it is different from the other options.

For coreos you click documentation and it takes you to the docs which don’t tell you what it is for whatsoever.

Cloud is optimized for running on cloud systems, e.g lightweight and on demand resource allocation. Server is optimized for installation directly on hardware or on virtualized hardware, characterized among other things by static resource allocation and long-term running.

Could that be on the pages themselves?

It sounds like cloud doesn’t have a reason to exist, since server sounds like the exact same thing but with an installer. It would probably be better to add it as a download option for server and call it ‘minimal qcow image’ or something. Wait that already exists Fedora Server | The Fedora Project

So what differentiates iot and coreos?

What additional information do you think would be helpful without being overloaded or how could the existing information get improved?

If it requires being ‘overloaded’ to explain the difference or use cases then perhaps that means they don’t need to be district distros. :thinking:

I love fedora and I’ve used it for almost 10 years. But starting a new home project and trying to pick which distro of fedora to use is way too much of a hassle. Too many similar options → choice paralysis. Choice paralysis is an undesirable feeling. Once paralyzed it is feel better to just choose something besides Fedora that is more clear with less choices!

It feels unpleasant enough I figured I had to bring it up. Who knows how many other people have been turned off Fedora because of this?

In addition by saying ‘This distro is for x’ you are implicitly stating the other distros (re server) is not for x. Which hurts your branding as well.

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Another important difference between IoT and CoreOS might be the release cycle? CoreOS has a stable, testing and next stream. IoT doesn’t for as far as I know.

This also means that CoreOS does automatic upgrades between major fedora versions, something that might not be great when running software on the host. I think this might be one of the most important differences.

Have you considered joining the Fedora Marketing team? It sounds like you have ideas! :classic_smiley:

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Do a minimal net-install of workstation, and bring in any packages you desire. I used to have the same view you are presenting - too many choices.

The flip-side of the too-many-choices argument is that the breadth of Fedora and the broader Linux ecosystem means that every developer gets their way. No one has to agree upfront on how Linux should be. This rampant innovation leads to deeper development. Evolution or attrition then culls aspects of the project and great ideas get broader adoption.

From a newbies perspective, I like the idea of a minimal install which gives the choice of whatever desktop one decides on - and that is how the net-install works at the moment. From a marketing perspective I would like to see Fedora have a clearer ‘start here’ decision tree or basic install option of desktop choices (spins). The https://fedoraproject.org/ homepage is fairly clear and well-worded on what the ‘editions’ are for.

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