"Fedora Linux" in /etc/os-release
"Fedora" is the name of our project. Our general-purpose Linux distribution is "Fedora Linux". Let's refer to it that way in the OS itself.
- Name: Matthew Miller
- Email: mattdm At fedoraproject.org (bugzilla: mattdm AT redhat.com)
- Targeted release: Fedora Linux 35
- Last updated: 2021-03-29
This change isn't big — it is simply expanding
- NAME=Fedora to NAME="Fedora Linux" and
- PRETTY_NAME="Fedora Linux [##] ([edition or spin])
in the file /etc/os-release.
The short identifier ID=fedora will remain the same, so scripted interactions should be unaffected.
The devel list comments thread prompted a moderate level of discussion, with (as of March 23) 44 participants and 91 posts (compared to, say, Pipewire by default, with 52 participants and 134 messages). Overall, the opinions expressed are split between positive, negative, and expressing lack of caring or that the change doesn't matter.
Objection: Users won't change
This is a common theme in the responses — it's easier to just type one word, people are used to it, everyone does it, etc. This is okay: changing user behavior is outside of the scope of this change, or even wider efforts around it. There is no intention to police informal communication either inside or outside of the project.
Objection: There is no benefit
This includes "Fedora doesn't make anything else, so why does it matter?" But, we do make other things: EPEL and Copr are important package collections that aren't part of our Fedora Linux release, and we produce documentation, websites, and tools which aren't tightly tied to the OS release. This also opens the door for other more experimental approaches — perhaps non-RPM packaging which would also sit outside of "Fedora Linux" itself.
One person had a sort of opposite objection: that the project is wasting time and resources on these other things (including ELN, CoreOS, Silverblue) and should instead focus just on the core distribution. I honestly see this as an argument for the change, because these things certainly are within Fedora Project scope and are part of Fedora.
Objection: Something other than "Linux"
Some people preferred GNU/Linux, or to pick something other than Linux as a descriptor. A few noted that we aren't likely to release an OS with another kernel. "Fedora Flow", "Fedora Software Distribution", and "Fedora Endeavors" were suggested.
The main reason for choosing the term Fedora Linux is simply familiarity. I also considered "Fedora OS", but... people know Linux, and in fact "Fedora Linux" is already in common use. There is even an O'Reilly Book!
On "GNU/Linux" in specific: while GNU is an important part of Fedora Linux, there are many other packages that make Fedora Linux what it is. The Fedora Project and our distribution are not part of GNU. DJ Delorie weighed in as a GNU C library maintainer and noted he has no problems with "Fedora Linux".
Objection: This will confuse people outside of the project
One person was concerned that this change would confuse casual users. The community blog post I made about this was shared a number of places, and just plain didn't get a strong reaction. The reddit thread has only 17 comments and it is mostly GNU jokes.
And again, this change is about changing the display name in /etc/os-release and is part of a small effort to change our official communications, not a larger endeavor to make a big immediate change in user behavior. Since some people already do commonly use “Fedora Linux”, and since we aren’t going to try to force people to change their habits if they want to just say “Fedora” informally, I don’t think there is a problem here.
Question: Is the Council behind this?
Two FESCo members indicated that while they are fine with a FESCo decision on the technical change, they would like to see a Council position backing the overall name effort. While the Council has talked about this before, we hadn’t taken an official vote. We that did at our recent virtual face-to-face meeting, and agreed by official consensus that we are in favor of using “Fedora Linux” in official communications and in the OS name.
This has also been cleared by Legal.
Benefit to Fedora
The distinction between our project and our output is important, because as a project and a community we are more than the bits we produce — and, we produce more things (including software bits!) from that included in the Fedora Linux distribution.
We make EPEL, ELN, and thousands of packages in Copr. These are all part of Fedora — but aren't Fedora Linux. We also make artwork, music, documentation, videos, websites, tools, and more. These things too are part of our project, but aren't part of the Fedora Linux distribution. The habit of calling just one thing we make "Fedora" makes it hard to talk about the project and all of the things we do within our mission.
Of course, years of colloquial usage can't be changed overnight, but changing the place where we officially identify the operating system name is an important start. Rather than a big education campaign, let's fix our own usage and go from there.
- Proposal owners: Will submit a PR for the fedora-release package.
- Other developers: Should be no impact, but may need to update any scripts using NAME instead of ID.
- Release engineering: #Releng issue number
To review and accept the PR when ready.
- Policies and guidelines: This change itself does not represent a change to policies, but it's good to consider where usage can be changed in existing documents.
- Trademark approval: Not required. Note that this has been cleared by Fedora Legal.
- Alignment with Objectives: No specific objective but aligns with a Council goal.
Updated systems will get the new /etc/os-release file and will see changes in the text-mode login prompt and in places like "OS Name" in the About panel in GNOME.
How To Test
1. Update to test version of Fedora 35
2. Observe name change in /etc/os-release
3. Optionally, observe name change in GNOME Settings, text-mode login screens, neofetch, etc.
It would also be useful to test any third-party software which may mistakenly look at NAME instead of ID.
Users will see the distribution referred to as "Fedora Linux" rather than just "Fedora".
- Contingency mechanism: Change owner or release engineering will revert the change to fedora-release
- Contingency deadline: Decision should be made at beta, but in the unlikely event of disaster this could be reverted right up until the last minute.
- Blocks release? No.
Fedora is made of people! When used by itself, the term "Fedora" refers to the Fedora Project. When referring to our work, please use either a specific name like Fedora Workstation, Fedora CoreOS, or Fedora KDE Plasma Desktop; or use Fedora Linux to refer to the OS distribution as a whole.
Note: Fedora is made of people! When used by itself, the term "Fedora" refers to the Fedora Project. When referring to our work, please use either a specific name like Fedora Workstation, Fedora CoreOS, or Fedora KDE Plasma Desktop; or use Fedora Linux to refer to the OS distribution as a whole.
To help emphasize this preferred naming, the field NAME in the file /etc/os-release is changing from "Fedora" to "Fedora Linux". This field is meant for display use. The field ID is meant for scripted use, and will remain fedora. Please check your scripts to make sure they are using the proper field.