Fedora Workstation 39 May Use Web-Based Installer

Big changes may be coming to the way Fedora Workstation is installed.

Red Hat engineers have been beavering away a new web-based UI for the Anaconda OS installer for the past year or so.

And now they want to make it the default installer in Fedora Workstation 39, which is due for release later this year.

Lest anyone panic I must stress that “web-based” does not mean “requires internet”. Nor does it mean losing out on any of Anaconda’s existing install features.

Not only does the new Anaconda WebUI have feature parity with the existing GTK3-based UI but also nixes longstanding issues, like a hard dependency on X for keyboard switching, insecure remote access (VNC), and an outdated UX.

To quote the proposal:

“The new web UI is not just a change of the UI technology, which is based on the React and Cockpit framework, but also a complete overhaul of the user experience. The new UI is trying to be easier to use by removing most of the complexities but still leaving possibilities to do everything you might need to do. We are trying to achieve a state where even users who don’t have previous experience with the Linux operating system will be able to do the installation smoothly.”

The new Anaconda installer introduces “Guided Partitioning”. Devs say this offers “the best compromise between the automatic (no customization) and custom/blivet-gui, which was too heavy and hard to maintain.”

The Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee (FESCo) need to approve the proposal. But, given the sort of testing the new Anaconda installer has had in earlier development cycles, now feels as good a time as any to “okay” it through.

For more details on the how’s and why’s of Anaconda WebUI I recommend reading the FOSDEM 2023 slide deck from Red Hat’s Martin Kolman (who works on Anaconda as part of his job).

Fedora isn’t alone in eyeing up a web-based installer. openSUSE is also looking at modernizing it own install experience using a new effort dubbed D-Installer.

If you’ve tried the Anaconda WebUI previously I’d love to know what you think. I’ve only installed Fedora using an installer once (and upgraded to subsequent releases since) so I’m not hugely familiar with old nor new!