Monday, February 21, 2011

What Is Fedora?

Having directories of source code floating extraneously around the Internet was not a bad way for hackers to share software. However, for Linux to be acceptable to a less technical population of computer users, it needed to be simple to install and use. Likewise, businesses that were thinking about committing their mission-critical applications to a computer system would want to know that this system had been carefully tested and well supported.

To those ends, several companies and organizations began gathering and packaging Linux software together into usable forms called distributions. The main goal of a Linux distribution is to make the hundreds (or even thousands) of unrelated software packages that make up Linux work together as a cohesive whole. Popular Linux distributions include Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, SUSE Linux Enterprise, Slackware, Damn Small Linux, Gentoo, and Mandriva. For many years, the most popular commercial distribution was Red Hat Linux.

In September 2003, Red Hat, Inc. changed its way of doing business. That change resulted in the formation of the Red Hat–sponsored Fedora Project to take the development of Red Hat Linux technology into the future. But what does that mean to individuals and businesses that have come to rely on Red Hat Linux?

Red Hat forms the Fedora Project
With the latest Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux distributions, the promises Red Hat made to the open source community and to Red Hat’s commercial customers have solidified. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux product offering has become a solid, reliable system for mass deployment of Linux in large organizations. The Fedora Project has evolved into an excellent cutting-edge Linux distribution with a massive number of high-quality software packages available to Fedora users.

A few years ago, things didn’t look so rosy.

The announcement of the Fedora Project by Red Hat, Inc. at first prompted more questions than answers about the future direction of the company and its flagship Red Hat Linux product. In fact, it seemed that nothing named Red Hat Linux even existed anymore. Instead, what was Red Hat Linux would be reflected by Linux distributions coming from two paths:

• Fedora Project ( — An open source project, beginning from a Red Hat Linux 9 base, that produces its own Linux distribution. While the project is sponsored by Red Hat, Inc., there is no official support for the Linux distribution (simply called Fedora) that the project produces.

• Red Hat Enterprise Linux ( — An official set of commercial Linux products from Red Hat, Inc. that are offered on an annual subscription basis. Red Hat backs up its Enterprise product line with technical support, training, and documentation.

The primary results of the Fedora Project are sets of binary and source code packages (distributed as DVD or CD images) containing the Linux distribution referred to as Fedora. Before its name was changed to Fedora, that distribution was being tested simply as the next in the series of Red Hat Linux distributions (presumably, Red Hat Linux 10).

The name change from Red Hat Linux to Fedora Core (and later to just Fedora) wasn’t the only difference between Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, however. Red Hat, Inc. also changed its association with Fedora in the following ways:

• No boxed sets — Red Hat decided to not sell Fedora through retail channels. The evershortening release cycle was making it difficult to manage the flow of boxed sets to and from retail channels every few months, and Red Hat believed that early adopters of Linux technology were clever enough to get the software themselves.

• Short guaranteed update cycle — Critical fixes and security patches will be available for each Fedora release for a much shorter period of time than on RHEL products. As a result, users will have to upgrade or reinstall the system more often.

• No technical support offerings — There are no technical support programs available from Red Hat for Fedora. Even so, by sponsoring the Fedora project, you get a form of free support as Red Hat staffers fix bugs and integrate the latest Linux technology.

• No Red Hat documentation — The set of manuals that came with the previous Red Hat Linux product was not brought over to Fedora. Instead, a series of small taskoriented documents are being collected for the project in article format. The Fedora Documentation project ( is, however, following a path to release Red Hat documentation under an open source licence so that
the Fedora Project can develop and distribute that documentation.

By not creating a whole support industry around Fedora, that project is free to produce software release on a much shorter schedule (usually a six-month release cycle). This allows Fedora users to always have the latest software features and fixes included with a recent version of the operating system. But the Fedora Project is more than just the Fedora Linux release. It is really a collection of projects ( that also includes the following:

• One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) — The Fedora Project is working with Red Hat, Inc. and the OLPC project ( to provide laptops to children around the world. Fedora software is being used as the foundation for the software part of OLPC.

• Fedora Ambassadors and Marketing — Focuses on spreading the word about Fedora to the world. Ambassadors have been assigned to different parts of the U.S. and to countries around the world to represent Fedora to their areas. The marketing project is helping to encourage presentations, developer conferences, and other initiatives to publicize Fedora.

• Fedora Live CD Tools — The Fedora Live CD initiative centers on a set of tools under the name livecd-creator. Using livecd-creator, the Fedora Project produces its own official Fedora live CDs. A live CD provides a means of running a Linux system on a computer without installing it to hard disk. It offers a great way to try out Fedora without disturbing anything installed on your hard disk. Because livecd-creator is itself an open source project, you can use the tools to create your own live CDs. Many advances to the live CD technology have occurred in recent releases of Fedora, including liveUSB versions and integration with kickstart files.

• Fedora Artwork — Creates the graphics used with Fedora (backgrounds, logos, login screens, and so on), primarily using tools that are distributed with Fedora.

• Fedora Documentation — Besides seeking to release Red Hat documentation under an open source license and maintaining it publicly with the Fedora Project, the Fedora Documentation Project is pursuing other initiatives. Those include assigning beat writers (to cover various software topics) and editors (to clean up and manage documentation contributions).

For information on the status of these and other Fedora projects, you can refer to the Fedora Weekly News ( If you are interested in contributing to any of the Fedora projects, the Fedora Projects page mentioned earlier is a good place to start. The Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo) provides oversight and guidelines for which projects to accept into Fedora. See for more on FESCo.

Third-party repositories for Fedora containing software packages that Red Hat won’t distribute due to licensing or patent issues have also grown and stabilized lately.

As the end-user forum of choice for Fedora users, Red Hat has endorsed the ( site. That site already has more than 149,000 members and over 1,260,000 posts you can search for answers to your questions.

Source of Information :  Wiley - Adobe Fedora Bible 2010 Edition Featuring Fedora Linux
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