Fedora, Red Hat's community Linux, turns 10

Fedora, Red Hat's community Linux, turns 10

Summary: Fedora is now 10 years old and is now one of the most beloved Linux distributions. When it was started, it was hated.


Today, Fedora is one of the most beloved Linux distributions. Top Linux kernel programmers, including Linus Torvalds himself, use Fedora for developing the next generation of Linux. For Red Hat, Fedora's parent company, Fedora is its road-map for its market-leading Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It didn't start that way. When Fedora first launched, it was hated.


Why? Because in 2003 Red Hat had just decided to drop its low-end Linux desktop distribution, Red Hat Linux, in favor of its business distribution, RHEL. The users were not happy. Comments I heard at the time included, "Red Hat has betrayed Linux" and "Red Hat wants to be the next Microsoft." One mid-major Linux company of the day, Progeny offered paid support for angry Red Hat Linux 9 users.

Red Hat made this move because it found itself on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, its most loyal fans wanted Red Hat to continue to be a fast-paced hacker Linux company, always turning out the latest stuff like all the other Linux firms of its day. Red Hat's paying customers, however, wanted a rock-stable business distribution.

As Greg DeKoenigsberg, today the VP of Community for Eucalyptus Systems, an open-source cloud company, and an early Fedora project leader, said, "We had a product in Red Hat Linux that was trying to perform two duties at the same time: It was trying to be enterprise software and it was trying to be cutting edge, 'release early, release often' software. Once the business realized that these were two conflicting goals they made the move to splitting the two."

Fun or money? Which would you choose?

Red Hat made its decision to go for the gold. They were right to do so. In 2012, Red Hat became the first billion dollar Linux company. With the exception of SUSE, the other major Linux companies of the early 21st century, Caldera, MandrakeSoft (later Mandriva), Lindows, etc. have either disappeared or are a shadow of their former selves.

At the same time, Red Hat did not want to lose its strong developer community. So, with the help of its community, noteably Warren Togami who first created Fedora as a community Red Hat software-package repository, and Bill Nottingham, the first Fedora leader, Fedora Core was born. It would become the first successful commercially-sponsored community Linux distribution. This combination of a business distribution and a pure open-source one would become a popular open-source business model. In 2007, Red Hat merged Core with another community Linux project, Extra, to form the Fedora you know in 2013.

Today, ten years after Red Hat decided to have both a business Linux and a community Linux, Fedora is the most popular technical Linux of them all. Its cutting-edge code leads the way for many Linux developers.

Red Hat states on its site that "For 10 years, the Fedora Project has beaten the drum for the open-source world, delivering the latest features and technologies approximately every six months, thanks to the dedication of a diverse global community of contributors. Advancing technologies like virtualization, cloud computing, and software-defined everything, Fedora releases from Yarrow to Heisenbug have continuously pushed open source to new heights and addressed the most complex challenges of next-generation computing."

As Michael Tiemann, Red Hat's VP of Open Source Affairs, said, "We could not make the kind of big bets that we make with major updates of RHEL without … Fedora." Looking ahead, current Fedora leader, Robyn  Bergeron, said in an interview, "For us in Fedora, I think it’s important for us to continue to evolve ways for people to find the OS a fruitful place for them to contribute.”

Happy birthday Fedora! And, here's to another ten-years of Fedora, long may it innovate!

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Topics: Enterprise Software, Linux, Open Source, Software Development

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  • I was one of the people angry at Redhat 10 years ago.

    But, I must say, in hindsight, I am glad they did the split. I use Fedora at home, and for devel at work, but we and our customers use the RHEL on the servers. I get leading edge stuff to play with, and they get reliable servers that just run, and run, and run.

    Happy Birthday Fedora.
  • Thanks you Fedora, Red Hat and GNU Linux community

    Fedora Core 3 was my first distribution. With a few driver problems on then brand new Dell box I remember back then in 2004 how wonderful that system was. First it was turned into a dual boot machine (with a buggy preinstalled Windows XP). Fedora (and GNU Linux in general) won both my heart and mind pretty soon, so didn't take long before the Windows was removed completely.
    • Canonical will make a similar move

      There will be community Ubuntu and then commercial Ubuntu. Shuttleworth is forced to take that step.

      Great deal of former Ubuntu-users have moved to other choice - most of to Linux Mint.
      Napoleon XIV
      • Ubuntu has the same model, but it's enterprise edition is for free

        Ubuntu has the LTS editions, which are aimed at enterprise and therefore maintained for five years. The intermediate editions are the cutting edge ones.

        Only difference with Red Hat: Canonical gives it's LTS editions away for free....
        • Free vs. subscription

          Both Red Hat and Canonical make their source code available for download (for free). Thus, the RHEL-derived distros: CentOS, Scientific Linux, Oracle Linux and Amazon Linux.

          Other than a limited (approx. 30 day) free trial, Red Hat requires a subscription for the RHEL binaries. Whereas Canonical provides Ubuntu binaries for free and a subscription is optional.

          P.S. The LTS releases of Ubuntu are also aimed at consumers like me that do not like to upgrade their systems frequently.
          Rabid Howler Monkey
        • RHEL is the LTS, clones are free

          The LTS edition is RHEL, the clones are free and Redhat has embraced them so there isn't any concern about their legality. However the problem with RHEL for desktop users is that the package set is much much smaller than the Fedora package set. The Ubuntu LTS is the full Ubuntu. From a business perspective Redhat has made the right decision, they are a profitable billion dollar company, Canonical is a tiny unprofitable one. From a user's perspective I'd like to see someone provide a supplemental repository for RHEL and clones that contains the entirety of the Fedora package set. EPEL contains a handful packages, and there are a few other repos that contain specialized things, but nobody provides the full set. It shouldn't be that hard. At the time that RHEL is forked from Fedora the full package set is still compatible. A yum repo with that version of the packages would be very welcome.
          • Sorry, but...

            "It shouldn't be that hard. At the time that RHEL is forked from Fedora the full package set is still compatible."

            Unfortunately (for this idea) it doesn't quite work that way. RHEL releases are never simply directly forked from a Fedora release. We're a bit reluctant to talk about it in detail for some reason, but no RHEL release maps unproblematically to a single Fedora release; different bits of RHEL will often be based on different Fedora ages, and some bits of RHEL are maintained kind of independently from Fedora entirely (RHEL's kernel differs quite a lot from Fedora's).
          • RHEL will never be fully Fedora compatible.

            The reason is simple: Fedora includes a lot of stuff that doesn't stand the test of time, or stand up to torture tests.

            Fedora gives new libs, api's and apps the benefit of the doubt and includes them, even if there are known in-stabilities, in the hopes that the software will improve over time. But if it doesn't improve, it will not be put into RHEL, because RHEL MUST be solid. RHEL customers demand it.
  • Happy Birthday Fedora . . .

    . . . I too was one of the most unhappy campers. In fact, I switched to openSuSE and never looked back. Red Hat made some horrible mistakes back in the day, and it cost them; however, its a good thing that the history is what it is . . . because they might have become the next Microsoft had it not gone that way ! Red Hat's error was the lead-in for ubuntu, which has led to Mint, Triquel, and debian too, as the upstream provider.

    I am glad that Red Hat mended its fences, and I'm actually a fan of Fedora today... although, I also use ubuntu, Mint, Trisquel, openSuSE, and debian. So, all's well that ends well... they say.

    Happy Birthday Fedora

    • I've tested it but never used it long time...

      ... and i hope that some day Fedora would have at least 3 years LTS-version (long time support). I'm not eager to install brand new Fedora version every 6-12 months. That's why i prefer Linux Mint. Very good for those who wanna distro with 5 years support time.
      Napoleon XIV
  • It is having current problems though.

    A lot of people are avoiding Gnome 3.

    And it hasn't been very stable since systemd was added. Shutdown problems (mostly hangs during shutdown), boot problems, poor security (well, if you include trivial DOS capabilities for local users). NetworkManager seems to have more trouble with complex neetwork configurations...
    • Hmm.

      "A lot of people are avoiding Gnome 3."

      Then it's handy we provide and test every major desktop then, really. KDE, Xfce, LXDE, Sugar, MATE, Cinnamon, take yer pick.

      "And it hasn't been very stable since systemd was added."

      Two problems with that: it's far too simplistic a correlation (listing the _other_ major changes since systemd landed would take me over the word limit), and 'stable' is an overloaded term. Do you mean 'stable' as in reliable or 'stable' as in unchanging?
      • "A lot of people are avoiding Gnome 3."

        It's the same nonsense that people are throwing at Canonical for defaulting with the Unity desktop environment. I'm currently running both Xfce4 and Unity on Ubuntu 12.04 and I make my desktop environment selection when logging in.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Glad there are so many distros

    I'm a long time Redhat user, starting with Redhat 5 and now with Fedora 19 and Scientific Linux 6.4. I love Fedora when it works but every now and then they go off the rails for a couple of years which is why I'm so happy that there are other choices. When they first transitioned from Fedhat 9 to FC1 the performance went to hell so I switched to Mandrake for a couple of years. Around FC4 the performance became acceptable again and I switched back (we can thank AMD for that not Redhat, the introduction of 64 bit x86s was the real reason that the performance problems went away). I was really happy with Fedora through F14 but then F15 not only went off the rails, it plunged off of a bridge. Fedora completely embraced the awful Gnome3 and none of the other desktops in Fedora were satisfactory substitutes for Gnome 2. Fortunately over in Ubuntu land, Ubuntu's boiler exploded with Unity which caused the Linux Mint people to create the Mate and Cinnamon projects. It took a long time for Fedora to embrace Mate and Cinnamon so I used Scientific Linux on my workstation and laptop as well as on my servers which have always run RHEL clones (originally CentOS and then Scientific Linux). RHEL is a great server OS but it's not a great desktop OS because it only supports a tiny subset of the packages that Fedora provides even with the EPEL and Fusion repositories). As of Fedora 19 Mate is a supported desktop in Fedora. It's not nearly as well integrated into Fedora as Gnome2 was in Fedora 14, but it works. I have great hopes that in Fedora 20 Mate will finally bring us back to where we were in F14.

    BTW Scientific Linux vs CentOS is another example of why it's great to have competing distros. Both are RHEL clones and today they are essentially identical. However when Redhat released RHEL 6.0 the CentOS project was very slow about releasing CentOS 6. Scientific Linux was very timely about releasing SL6 so that's when I switched from CentOS to SL. I'll be sticking with Scientific Linux through the 6x generation. When RHEL 7 comes along we'll have another race to get the first clone out.
  • Hmmmmm...

    I dual boot Fedora 19 with Windows 8.1 on my work laptop, very nice combo.
    Just wish someone would create a program that would take advantage of the
    dual GPU's the laptop has. (Nvidia / Intel) as nice as the windows program does...

    Tried the linux setups, they don't work very well , but someday maybe. : )
    • Let's be clear.

      "the windows program" does not handle the dual GPUs, the GPU maker's software handles that.
      OEM Windows DVDs do not have any software for any Dual GPU hardware.
      • Hmmmmm....

        Well no Schmidt Sherlock, it's pretty obvious that Nvidia, AMD / ATI or Intel graphics software is at best 2nd rate to the drivers they write for Microsoft or Apple...(they get more moolah from them)..... i don't feel like tweaking drivers on my own time, i can afford nice machines so i don't have to do that. effen' gevalt.....waiting for snide incoming remarks....in 5...4...3...2... ; )