This article is more than 1 year old killed the distro star: Why are people so bored with the top Linux makers?

Raise your hand if you're interested – liar!

Linux distros: gatekeepers no more

"When you go to the Docker website, it doesn't say 'find us in these distros,' it says, 'fork us on GitHub'," Miller said, "and you see that more and more in a lot of prominent open source projects."

And of course, there are far more obscure open source projects than there are prominent ones. When you take these into account, it becomes obvious that the influence of Linux distros – which were once the most prominent curators of open source software – has waned in favor of this new, community-based code sharing model.

"There are something like 15 million repositories on GitHub," Miller said. "And then we have 18,000 packages in Fedora – which is a big number and we're growing very quickly, as well, but there's no way we're going to capture all of that. Even if you follow the general rule where 90 per cent of everything is crap, you can take that out to a lot more 'nines' and you'll still have a number that is way bigger than all of the software that we can possibly package up in the traditional manner."

There are other factors at play, to be sure. The rise of public cloud services means it no longer matters as much which OS the user is running – Linux or otherwise. The app store model that Apple pioneered has yet to really take off in the Linux world, for a variety of reasons, but there are some examples of "stores" that are independent of any one distro, such as language-specific repositories.

Fedora project leader Matthew Miller

Fedora Project leader Matthew Miller

And then there is that Linux buzzword du jour, containers. There were multiple sessions on containers at LinuxCon, and Docker in particular. One way of looking at Docker is that it's an entirely new format for packaging applications, one that obviates the need for distro-specific package formats.

The natural extension of the Docker idea is CoreOS, a Linux distribution in which all applications are delivered as containerized images and the core distro ships with only the bare minimum of software needed to boot and run the system. Compared to Fedora, CoreOS is almost the anti-distro.

Fedora is hardly ignoring these trends. "" is the umbrella term for the ongoing effort to chart the next ten years of Fedora development, and a number of ambitious proposals are on the table.

One idea that will likely come to fruition, Miller said, is to split Fedora into several different "products," including formulations for the desktop, traditional servers, and cloud guests.

Another is to divide the Fedora package library into "rings," where the centermost ring will contain only the most-critical system software and each surrounding ring will contain less-crucial packages. One result of this might be that a bootable Fedora system will consist of fewer than 1,000 packages. It should also make it easier for developers to get their "outer ring" software accepted into Fedora, which Miller admits is too difficult now.

Anyone who cares about the direction that Fedora and Linux in general will take is invited to participate. "There isn't a secret agenda here," Miller said. "I know that, for some reason, people are prone to thinking we have secret agendas. But it is an open process that anybody can contribute to or talk about."

Yet whether these efforts succeed in helping to raise interest in traditional Linux distros, or whether they will inevitably replaced by a more stripped-down system like CoreOS, remains to be seen. From this Reg hack's perspective, however, how the debate pans out over the next few years will be anything but boring. ®

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