Fedora is a Linux-based operating system created back in 2003 as a community distribution called the Fedora Project. It is developed by the community-supported Fedora Project which is sponsored primarily by Red Hat, a subsidiary of IBM, with additional support from other companies.
Fedora contains software distributed under various free and open-source licenses and aims to be on the leading edge of free technologies. Fedora is the upstream source of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution, and subsequently CentOS as well.
As of February 2016, Fedora has an estimated 1.2 million users, including Linus Torvalds (as of 2015), creator of the Linux kernel. The Fedora project is famous for being backed up by an ever-increasing community of both advanced and technically inexperienced supporters from around the world who keep creating innovative free open-source software for Fedora users.
Examples of very successful open-source software releases under the Fedora Project include: NetworkManager, PolicyKit, FreeIPA, SELinux, HAL, D-bus, PulseAudio.
Fedora has a reputation for focusing on innovation, integrating new technologies early on and working closely with upstream Linux communities.
From the beginning, one of the most powerful reasons for users to use Fedora was the community and its core values. The Four Foundations of Fedora, Freedom, Features, First and Friends were lived and breathed and not just a catchy line on a website or a leaflet. Fedora Project strove (and still does) to deliver the newest features first, caring for freedom (of choice and software) and keeping a good open community, making friends.
In addition, Fedora it being the first Linux distro which introduce SELinux and SystemD by default, and to replace LILO with GRUB.
Just as all Linux distributions, Fedora is focused on security. Unlike Ubuntu, which is another very popular Linux distribution based on Debian, in Fedora a firewall is present right from the start and can be easily configured both using the terminal or via the graphical interface. Fedora also is one of the main promoters for SELinux, which stands for Security-Enhanced Linux, a feature which implements several security policies, which are missing in most of the Linux-based distributions.
The history of Fedora
In the mid-90s Red Hat emerged and slowly started to make a profit of its own by selling its own business-oriented distribution and software utilities. The name (Red Hat) comes from one of its founders, Marc Ewing. He used to wear a red lacrosse in university so other students could spot him easily and ask him questions.
Fedora began its existence under the name Fedora.us. If you are wondering why “us” was present in the name it was “us” as in “we” not as in the “United States.”
Fedora.us it had changed its name to Fedora Project and was actively being worked on from within Red Hat. Some say that Fedora existed separately and Red Hat added/invited them. Some say that Fedora was completely Red Hat’s idea, some say they existed independently and at some point met or joined. Choose the version you like.
Red Hat focuses on businesses and companies. Their main concern is having exactly the software their customers need, with the features their customers need, delivered as rock solid stability and a reliable update and support cycle. A lot of customization, variety of options and many cool new features are not their main core.
So what to do? Well, they solved it with Fedora. Fedora Project would be the innovative, looking ahead test bed, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux was the more conservative, rock solid operating system for businesses. Yes, they changed the name from Red Hat Linux to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Early versions of Fedora were called Fedora Core and had a very uncertain release pattern. The six months cycle came much later. Fedora Core got its name because there were two repositories, Core and Extras. Core had the essentials, so to speak, and was maintained by Red Hat. Extras was, well, everything else. Any software that most users would want or need was included there, and it was maintained by a wide range of contributors.
Fedora Core kept this name up to the sixth version.
What’s the difference between Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux?
Linux distributions are available as community versions or enterprise versions. A community distro is a free Linux distro primarily supported and maintained by the open source community. An enterprise (or commercial) Linux distro is available through a subscription from a vendor and does not rely solely on community support.
Above all, the primary difference between community and enterprise distros is who decides what’s important to users. For example, a community distro’s direction is set by contributors. They choose and maintain packages from the wide variety of open source options. However, the direction of an enterprise distro is set by a vendor, based on the needs of their customers.
Think about it like this. The Fedora project is the upstream, community distro of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat is the project’s primary sponsor, but thousands of developers – unaffiliated with Red Hat – contribute to the Fedora project. This making it the ideal testing ground for features that eventually get incorporated into Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Fedora Linux editions
Fedora Workstation focuses on the desktop. In particular, it’s geared toward software developers who want a “just works” Linux operating system experience. This release features GNOME, which has plenty of great improvements as usual.
Fedora Server brings the latest in cutting-edge open source server software to systems administrators in an easy-to-deploy fashion.
For edge computing use cases, Fedora IoT (Internet of Things) provides a strong foundation for IoT ecosystems.
Fedora CoreOS provides a minimal image of Fedora which includes just the bare essentials. In other words, it is meant for deployment in cloud computing. It provides Fedora CoreOS images which are optimized minimal images for deploying containers.
Of course, Fedora produce more than just the editions. In addition, Fedora Spins and Labs target a variety of audiences and use cases. Fedora Spins provide alternative desktops for Fedora, including KDE Plasma, Cinnamon, Xfce, MATE, LXQT and LXDE.
Package management system
Fedora is a distribution that uses a package management system. This system is based on rpm, the RPM Package Manager, with several higher level tools built on top of it, most notably PackageKit (default gui) and yum (command line tool). As of Fedora 22, yum has been replaced by dnf. The Gnome Package Manager is another GUI package manager.
Of course, there are countless software packages are available to install on Fedora Linux distribution from the repository provided by Fedora project. You can also enable other third-party repositories such as COPR or RPM Fusion to install additional software applications.