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Fedora 15 Spins Custom Linux Distros

By Sean Kerner (Send Email)
Posted May 23, 2011


For some use cases, a one size fits all operating system doesn't fit the bill. That's where customized operating systems can come into play, with Linux being a key enabler. Customized versions of Fedora 15 for security, gaming and different desktops will debut alongside the general-purpose release.

As part of the upcoming Fedora 15 Linux release, there will be multiple 'spins' or customized variants of the general-purpose Linux operating system release, to meet specific needs and use-cases.

The custom spins will be available as Live Images that enable users to run the distro from a CD/DVD or USB key without the need to install to a hard drive. Fedora is a community Linux distribution sponsored by Red Hat (NYSE:RHT). The customized Fedora 15 spins include security, gaming and desktop variants for KDE, LXDE and Xfce and is set for availability as the same time as Fedora 15 is generally available.

"Some of the spins have always been available but we've done a lot of work on the way that those spins get created," Jared Smith, Fedora Project Leader told InternetNews.com. "Before, a lot of the spins were created in a manual run process, outside of our normal build system."

Starting with Fedora 15, the building of some of the custom spins now happens within the Fedora infrastructure.

"We got our Koji build server to actually build the live images directly inside of our build system," Smith said. "It just made more sense to get those spun up at the same time that we put out the main release, rather than having to go through a manual process after the release was finished."

Smith explained that the customized Fedora spins have been organized by the spins special interest group (SIG) within the Fedora community. In terms of how the Fedora project determined which spins would be included on release day, Smith noted that the spins SIG identified which spins are being actively maintained and tested.

"If we create a spin and no one is using it or testing it, it may not be ready for release on release day," Smith said. "If it's something that has a community behind it then it's much more likely that it will get voted up by the spin SIG."

From Smith's perspective, having the spins available is a key part of expanding the market for Fedora Linux.

"We wouldn't go through the effort of building the spins if we didn't think they were useful for both building our community and to give people a creative outlet to do what is best for them," Smith said. "It's really hard to make a one size fits all operating system, so we found that the spin process allows people to be more focused on what part of the operating system they want."

With Fedora 15, the Live Images provided for the custom spins will also be bigger than ever before thanks to new compression technology. Fedora 15 will now be using LZMA compression for the Live Images enabling more applications to be put into each image.

"What we were barely squeezing into a 700 mb image before is now using approximately 550 to 580 mb of space, " Smith said. "So there is a fairly healthy gain in terms of the amount of packages that you can fit on a live image."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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