As Fedora gears up for the new release of Fedora Linux 35, let’s take a moment to learn about how Fedora assembles each new distribution and what to expect in the upcoming Fedora Linux 35 release. Thanks to Ben for responding to this interview. We previously interviewed Ben as part of “How do you Fedora?” in 2020.
What is the typical release cycle for Fedora? What happens during that release cycle?
Fedora Linux releases every six months — at the end of April and October. Development begins when the previous release branches from Rawhide, which is our rolling development branch. Fedora Linux 35 branched on 10 August, so at that point anything that lands in Rawhide will be for Fedora Linux 36.
We have a Beta release the month before, which allows people to give it a test drive and help us squash remaining bugs. The last few weeks before the Beta and Final releases, we freeze updates, which allows testers to have a stationary target to test against. Only updates that fix release-blocking bugs or have been granted a freeze exception can go into the repo during a freeze.
How does Fedora decide what new features or software to include in each new release?
To a large extent, the people doing the work decide what work to do. We have a Changes process, where members of the community submit plans for what they want to include in an upcoming Fedora Linux release. The plans are published on our development mailing list for a week to allow time for feedback. After that, the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo) votes on whether or not to accept the proposal. Most proposals are accepted as-is. Sometimes FESCo asks for changes or clarifications.
FESCo members are elected by community vote, with half of the seats up for reelection every release cycle.
Fedora has spins. What are these, and how do they differ from the main Fedora Linux release?
Fedora produces a lot of variants. The flagship ones are our Editions: Fedora Workstation, Fedora Server, and Fedora IoT. These are targeted at specific, unique use cases. We also have Spins, which feature different desktop environments (like KDE Plasma), and Labs, which target specific use cases (like computational neuroscience).
There are lots of different Fedora spins. What are one or two Fedora spins that folks might be interested in?
I’m partial to the Plasma spin as a long-time KDE Plasma user. We recently added an i3 spin, which features the i3 tiling window manager. That’s been a very popular option.
And we now have two rpm-ostree-based variants to provide an immutable, atomic desktop: Fedora Silverblue (GNOME) and Fedora Kinoite (KDE Plasma).
Fedora Linux 35 comes out soon. What are some of the cool new features in Fedora Linux 35?
I don’t want to call the release boring, but Fedora Linux 35 definitely has fewer big changes compared to the last few releases. There’s a lot of polish and general improvements coming in this release.
The new Fedora Kinoite variant, which features KDE Plasma on an rpm-ostree platform, is exciting. And we now have support for restarting user services when packages upgrade (if the packager opts in to that), which can improve stability when running online updates. A full list of Fedora Linux 35 Changes is available on the wiki.
Fedora is an open source project with a strong community. How can folks contribute to Fedora to help out?
I like to think of Fedora as a mid-sized company, which means we need almost everything a mid-sized company needs. You don’t have to be a coder to contribute to Fedora. We always need documentation writers, testers, marketing, graphic designers, etc. If you can do it, we probably need it! The best way to get involved is to contact Fedora Join. They can help you learn your way around the community and find a good fit.
Jim Hall is an open source software advocate and developer, best known for usability testing in GNOME and as the founder + project coordinator of FreeDOS. At work, Jim is CEO of Hallmentum, an IT executive consulting company that provides hands-on IT Leadership training, workshops, and coaching.