Why I use Fedora

For quite some people it seems if you use Fedora you are committing an open source sin; at best it seems as if there is no good reason to use it, or so has been my experience. Fedora is generally regarded as a test-bed for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and even though that is true to some extent, that’s not my perception.

My first serious distribution was Linux From Scratch, so I have thought quite a lot about how a Linux distribution should be. For me, it should have state-of-the-art technology, be developer-friendly, and stable.

The only real contenders so far have been: Ubuntu, Gentoo and Arch Linux.

Arch Linux is a great distribution; simple and useful. Unfortunately, it’s not very popular and that shows in it’s stability. Perhaps that has improved since the last time I tried, but I don’t have enough time nor motivation to try it again.

Gentoo might have been the next logical step away from LFS, but there’s a reason why I stopped doing my own distribution: I didn’t want to compile everything by myself. As far as Gentoo stays away of serious binary packages; it’s not an option.

That leads to Ubuntu. Yeah, it’s a great distribution and everybody loves it… I’m sorry but I don’t. The fact that it’s a desktop oriented distribution makes certain decisions as no-root quite annoying. Also not having any choice of the packages to install or different installation methods; I like to install Fedora with an USB key and download the packages over the network. It’s graphics-only installer also doesn’t play well with QEMU.

Those are quite annoying, but minor details. My biggest rant is the package management system.

I’m quite fond of the following RPM commands:
rpm -q --requires foo
rpm -q --provides foo
rpm -q --whatprovides foo
rpm -q --whatrequires foo

Note that “foo” can be a package, a file, or some identification string, like “perl(Error)”. That solves all the possible dependency querying needs you can have.

In contrast, a query of “dpkg -S /etc/localtime” returns nothing on a debian system, or at least the one I have at hand.

There are other annoying details like “apt-get install” and “apt-cache search”; why do I need to know which one to use in which situations? “yum install” and “yum search” are much friendlier.

Finally, there are some common miss-conceptions regarding Fedora:

  • The “dependency-hell” still exists; that’s not true thanks to yum.
  • It’s unstable by nature since it’s RHEL’s test-bed; not true, there’s Fedora development, testing and stable.

Despite having bleeding-edge technologies Fedora is always quite stable, and very often they choose new technologies that are aligned to exactly what I would have chosen if I was still doing my own LFS.

It’s not perfect but I don’t see any better option.

Do you have any recommendation?


15 thoughts on “Why I use Fedora

  1. I agree with what you say about Ubuntu and have moved to Fedora. It has been my main system for a while now and I find it very stable.

    One other thing is Fedora handles updates much more smoothly especially the Grub menu changes when a new kernel is installed.

  2. The first Linux I installed was Fedora 4. I try to keep current versions of Fedora, SuSE and Ubuntu on my PC. I use all three’s forums. There are several things where one OS fails but another does well. I like Synaptics. My main OS is Ubuntu 7.04, I tried 7.10 but went back to 7.04.
    My effort at Linux From Scratch never succeeded 😦

  3. I keep trying to be a good European and use openSuse
    rather than a nasty American distro .. 😉

    My last effort ( only a couple of weeks ago ) lasted
    3 days before I decided again that I hated it and went
    back to Fedora.


  4. “There are other annoying details like “apt-get install” and “apt-cache search”; why do I need to know which one to use in which situations? “yum install” and “yum search” are much friendlier.”

    You mean like aptitude install, aptitude search, aptitude show, aptitude remove?

  5. you really should try archlinux again. I use it on my desktop and it is really nice. A perfect blend of bleeding-edge packages with top notch stability. i686 optimized and with your choice of binary packages or build your own, it’s a winner on my desktop.

    though I still have vista on my laptop, but that will change once hardy comes out.

  6. I second openSuSe.

    I started using linux as my main OS about 5 or 6 years ago, with Mandrake and Fedora Core 1 through 3. Then after I got my “legs” I switched over to Gentoo for several years (and I still hold a fondness in my heart for use flags, keywords and package un/masks). But like you, I was tired of source packages. So I switched to Ubuntu for a year or so. My main issue was that Intrepid (bleeding edge) had all sorts of “dependency hell” problems.

    Now I’ve been running openSuSe (10.3, 11.0, and currently Factory [bleeding edge]) for about 7 months. I really like it. The new zypper package manager (which obsoletes yum) is every bit as good as apt, and I still have all the raw power of rpm when I want it. And you get the desktop-centric stuff for free (the whole system, plus your pants size, is configurable from the yast2 application, with both QT and GTK flavored front-ends; setting up NFS shares in three clicks is fun).

    I don’t mean to sound like a fanboy, but I really think that openSuSe is one of the best, if not *the* best distros out there now.

  7. MonkeeSage: I’ve not used OpenSuSe, but my feeling is that is a great distro for users. But for developers Fedora is a little better. I’m not sure, just a feeling.

    Also, I prefer PackageKit over all the distro-specific package management stuff.

  8. Added incentive: openSuSe supports PackageKit as well as libzypp as its package management backend from the GUI tools. Smart package manager integrates pretty seamlessly as well. 😉

    Ps. I develop / hack on apps in ruby, python, vala, c# and c++ with openSuSe–no problems so far.

    Pss. Oh God! I really sound like a fanboy now, heh. Well, honestly, just use what is best for you. ‘Cause it’s *you* who has to use it when all is said an done. Just offering my input on a possible alternative, since you asked. 🙂

  9. I agree with the first halve of the article, but for the second halve “aptitude” is the answer.

  10. I use Ubuntu , sabayon , fedora . I use three different distro. Debian based ubuntu,gentoo based sabayn and RPM based FEdora . I like three of them . I dont think that someone is special…ithink linux is special . so use almost every package sysem dist…..Every distro has its own uniqueness . Linux Rocks. Dont quarrel. plz.

  11. +obakfahad Maybe with time you will find out the issues all of those distributions have.

    FTR. I don’t use Fedora any more. I have switched to Arch Linux.

  12. Greetings Felipe,
    I’m a total newbie as far as a user of ‘open source’ software such as Linux or Fedora is concerned. In fact I’m only at present in the process of downloading Fedora and haven’t as much as even begun using it. My main reason for investigating either has to do with security concerns and malware avoidance. Would you please educate me, at least a bit anyhow, as to what makes an ‘Open Source’ OS so safe and/or desirable? I was intending to use Fedora ‘side by side’ with Windows Vista, at least until I feel comfortable with it or choose to dump it. Any suggestions?
    All the very best of good wishes to you & yours,
    Sincerely, Mel

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