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Linux

Project Bluefin: A Linux Desktop for Serious Developers

Want a desktop Linux built on immutable Fedora with an Ubuntu-style desktop designed expressively for programmers? Then you want Bluefin.
Nov 23rd, 2023 6:00am by
Featued image for: Project Bluefin: A Linux Desktop for Serious Developers

Like many people who play at programming, and more importantly, the ones who actually do it for a living, I use a Linux desktop. Now, well, I can’t do any better than to quote from Bluefin‘s creator, Jorge Casto, a top open source and Linux community manager, “Bluefin is a custom image of Fedora Silverblue by a bunch of cloud native nerds. We want a reliable desktop experience that runs everything, but we’re too lazy to maintain anything. So we automated the entire delivery pipeline in GitHub.”

I like it!

To take it piece by piece, Fedora Silverblue is an immutable desktop Linux that uses the GNOME interface. On top of this, Castro and his buddies wanted a desktop with a more Ubuntu-like feel.

Bluefin has three goals:

  • For end users provides a system as reliable as a Chromebook with near-zero maintenance, with the power of Ubuntu and Fedora fused together
  • For developers, provide the best cloud native developer experience by enabling easy consumption, which includes dedicated bluefin-dx and bluefin-dx-nvidia images with the industry’s leading tools.
  • For gamers, deliver a world-class Flathub gaming experience

Project Bluefin, now in beta, is not just another Linux distribution. It is an enhanced version of Fedora Silverblue, polished to provide a more reliable and maintenance-free desktop experience. The project has been tailored for those who find traditional Linux desktops less reliable than desired, offering a clean, atomic layer on top of the default Fedora image. This means users can always revert back to a stock image if needed.

Not crazy about the Ubuntu approach? No problem. As Casto wrote, “You can swap your userspace as you see fit. By default, it’s Bluefin/Ubuntu, but I’ve been enjoying Bluefin/Alpine for its speed and small size. At some point, I’ll migrate to using Wolfi images, too. In other words, “use whatever you want, or stick to the stock Fedora images. We purposely don’t dictate a developer workflow; whatever works for you. Homebrew is my preferred route and is what I recommend to people who are migrating to Bluefin DX.”

The project has been automated entirely through a delivery pipeline on GitHub, ensuring that updates are automatic and transparent. It boasts built-in drivers and the ability to run Flathub packages for applications. This gives you a choice of browsers and with a built-in container runtime, you can run virtually any Linux workload on it.

Dev-Friendly

For developers, Project Bluefin is a treasure trove. It comes with Podman, a container runtime, and includes a distrobox for an interactive experience, allowing users to choose any distribution image for their day-to-day tasks. Additionally, the developer image, bluefin-dx, is equipped with Visual Studio Code with devcontainers, devbox with Fleek for nix, devpod, homebrew, and Docker. No matter your development needs, Bluefin can cater to them.

The project also addresses the sustainability of open source contributions. It is built using common tools like Containerfiles with Python/Shell, making it accessible to many contributors. The governance and procedures are taken seriously, and contributions are welcomed, especially from those with cloud native knowledge.

Bluefin Community

Project Bluefin is not just about technology; it’s about community and sustainability. The project’s imagery, featuring dinosaurs, is a nod to the evolution and adaptability required in the open source ecosystem. The team behind Bluefin has taken care to make the project lightweight from a contribution perspective, fully automating much of the maintenance work, thus allowing developers to focus on innovation rather than upkeep.

As the project moves towards its general availability in Spring 2024, the team is focused on refining the installation experience and ironing out minor issues. The developers are confident that the installation process will improve significantly in the coming months.

Project Bluefin represents a fresh start for the next generation of Linux desktop users and developers, aims to accelerate the consumption of cloud native technology and acts as a reliable platform for software engineering and development.

For those interested in the future of Linux desktops and cloud-native development, Project Bluefin is a distro to watch. The project’s beta phase is an invitation to the community to join in and contribute to what could be the state-of-the-art of the Linux desktop.

I’ve known Castro for years, and his passion for the Linux desktop. His dream for Bluefin is, “What if we could use the Linux desktop to onboard people right into cloud native?”

Can he succeed? Give it a try, and join the community. I think you’ll be impressed.

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