Universal Blue is helping me build an open source Chromebook alternative

And a great hotrodded SteamOS, and a great developer-focused image with all the awesome cloud-native tools.

TLDR: Universal Blue is a toolkit for making your own custom image of the Fedora Silverblue variants. So we do a bunch of cool stuff with it. This post will make much more sense if you read that first:

Custom Operating System images based on Fedora

Sorry that the long form has suffered, but my spare time has been working on Universal Blue and Bluefin. More details in the video above, but here's the summary


When I decided to move to Fedora I immediately missed my Ubuntu desktop, which as Martin Wimpress reminded me, feels like a comfortable set of slippers. But it eventually became it's own thing and does a few things:

  • Like all Universal Blue images all the codecs and drivers (yes, Nvidia too) and all that crap is included
  • Traditional dock on the bottom, app indicators
  • Zero maintenance - the simplicity and reliability of a a Chromebook but I wanted a "proper" full distribution
  • Flatpak as the only end-user visible package manager on the host

Everything is automated, but since there's a container runtime on it it's also the perfect default next gen experience.

Use any package from any distro at your command, logically seperated from the system, so you can bring all your traditional packages with you, just cleanly split from the rest.

I've commissioned some fantastic artists to include some artwork in Bluefin, and I am relaunching it with a new website and all that good stuff. It'll be cool.

So much e-waste in this world, think of the potential. This is Bluefin's goal.

Bluefin Developer Experience

Now for the true power, my ultimate expression of the power of this model. The perfect cloud-native Linux workstation.

A quick just devmode-on will switch to the the bluefin-dx image. This baby has it all, check the list of stuff:

Developer Experience - Universal Blue
Custom Operating System images based on Fedora

Since the base images are done we can now concentrate on the workloads. So that means VS Code out of the box, Jetbrains tools one command away, and homebrew as well. And hopefully some of you can help us ship a nice Cockpit configuration so that you can do your own self-hosted fleet management.

Since we're not a distro we can be that layer that gives people a nice cloud-native, repeatable way to share configuration. For example I'm really digging this machine learning just snippet that has one purpose, to pull down Nvidia's pytorch image and just let you use it. We feel that this is a great way to share knowledge, and is something that open source excels at ... that deep integration of community.

So we give you lots of options. All the distros + nix + homebrew. Zero judgement. Well, at least significantly less judgement than normal. Heh.

I got a Framework and it's awesome

I got a Framework 13 and immediately just put their recommended power settings in a dedicated image. Comes in the -dx variety, of course:

Framework - Universal Blue
Custom Operating System images based on Fedora

This is now my main work laptop. I now work at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation with this amazing set of people. So my dogfood better be delicious!

And of course, the most important thing. The real goal of the project, to onboard the next generation of OSS maintainers. So over the course of the next 18 months I'll be hitting the road ... first at Container Days in Hamburg and gRPC Conf in September. The topic is sustainability of our open source communities. You see, while all this stuff is fun, there's work to be done to keep our ecosystems healthy, and I'm proud to be on the team working to make it better.

And I hope to spend the next few years showing you what a "devops for the desktop" community can do for you! And the only way to prove that is my ensuring we have kickass community governance. Looking forward to your feedback!

Show Comments