Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Why use Fedora Linux

Ubuntu may be the most popular Linux OS however Fedora may be a better alternative for your desktop. Read to understand.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Fedora Linux is a fantastic operating system. On this post I'd like to explore the reasons why I use and 💕 Fedora and some of the reasons why I recommend it over other Linux distributions.

But before getting there, let me tell you my personal journey. I always used Linux... in dual-boot mode. My journey with it started 15 years ago when I was introduced to Slackware Linux. I loved it! Since then I've used Red Hat (before RHEL), Mandriva, Fedora Core 4, OpenSuse, Ubuntu, Mint, elementary OS, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Arch, Manjaro and Raspbian.

Yes, call me a distrohopper! Turns out that none those systems satisfied me until I tried Fedora 24. That same install runs still today on my primary desktop as Fedora 31. So let's describe some of the reasons you should also consider running Fedora on your desktop.

Simplicity

I chose to put simplicity first because it is indeed on of the characteristics that I enjoy the most and the most commonly asked by new users. From the installation to the default UI, everything seems integrated, animations are smooth. All of this without sacrificing performance.

A Fedora workstation running Gnome 3.30 / Source

Stability

Fedora is very stable. And differently from what people think, Fedora is not a beta-testing environment for RHEL. Packages are tested on its development channel, validated and once mature and all dependencies are met and stable, millions of users get the update. Be sure that for each update that you get, hundreds of ours of tests were performed.

Security

We know that keeping the system up to date is as important as having a good anti-virus software, a working firewall and safe web browsing habits. Fedora shines on this aspect. Due to its SELinux integration, frequent software and kernel updates, you're running a safe system.
Note: for those who don't know, SELinux was developed by the NSA and is the standard access control tool for critical services.

Privacy

Linux users shouldn't be concerned about privacy. Or should we?  Fedora discloses its Privacy Policy publicly and adheres to it as to its core principles: Freedom, Friends, Features and First.

Development-Friendly

Developers are pretty much covered with everything on the development site. You will find  Go, Rust Docker, Swift, Python, NodeJs, Ruby, Java,  among others can be found in the repos. Anything else? You will find it there.

Performance

Fedora performs. My 3 yr-old laptop boots in 5 seconds. The performance is mainly due to more up to date software and to keeping the OS running only with the necessary resources. Yes there are faster options and yes, Gnome is not as light as other window managers but it's still a very good for the avg user.

Freedom

With Fedora, free alternatives are chosen to proprietary code and content and limit the effects of proprietary or patent encumbered code on the Project. Releases that are predictable and 100% legally redistributable for everyone.

Community-Driven

Differently from other distros which are subject to private interests, Fedora is driven by a community of enthusiasts.  All communication is open to the public and everyone is invited to collaborate! Check the Fedora Hyperkit page for more information.

Reliability

The Fedora project serves as the base for RHEL and CentOS. So it needs to be mature, it needs to be stable. It's a very serious Linux desktop operating system used daily by millions of users and servers around the world. It needs to be reliable. Personally, I had zero problems in my last 4 years doing distribution upgrades.

Cutting-Edge Software

As previously stated, First is one of the foundations of the Fedora Project. Fedora repos usually land features early than Ubuntu. My opinion is that it is the best mix without being a rolling release. And remember, you can always add different repos or install software trough universal Linux packages like FlatPak.

Frequent Updates

Fedora updates are frequent. Sometimes, multiple times a week I get software upgrades covering security issues, performance, stability and even Kernel updates. It's also common to get multiple kernel updates per release. That usually means running a more mature, stable and secure kernel. It also means better performance and supported hardware too.

Impressive Software Selection

The default package repository contains all the software you will ever need. Plus, in Fedora the software can be managed by the powerful DNF package manager. For example, this is the number of packages (software) available from the repository ran from my XFCE instance:

DNF also handles distribution updates which happen twice a year.

Custom Software Repositories

The amount of software available on the official Fedora repo is incredible. Probably everything that you need, you can find there. But if you're not covered for the package selection on the free/default repo, you still could make use of RPM Fusion to install software that doesn't adhere to Fedora's requirements.

Not to mention Copr (Cool Other Package Repo), a Fedora project to help  building and managing third party package repositories easy. Copr is hosted under the Fedora Infrastructure and allows developers to create repos so they can be shared with users.

Excellent Hardware Support

Fedora has excellent support for hardware. I don't have cutting-edge hardware neither am a gamer so I cannot comment on that but for most people, both the Fedora installer and the kernel are very good at recognizing and activating the hardware. That's probably a good reason why most people stop distrohopping when they get to Fedora. Most of the issues (including lack of hardware support) disappear.

Incubator for new features

The Fedora community creates many of the technical features that have made Linux powerful, flexible, and usable for a wide spectrum of millions of users, administrators, and developers worldwide. In fact, this is the Missions and Foundations of the project:
The Fedora community prefers approaches that benefit the progress of free software in the future over those that emphasize short term ease of use.
Some of the features developed with Fedora include:
  • Wayland - a new display system
  • SystemD - an init system
  • GNOME - a free and open-source desktop environment for Unix-like operating systems. 
  • The GTK toolkit - a cross-platform widget toolkit for creating graphical user interfaces.
  • PipeWire - a new audio and video subsystem
  • Flatpak - application packaging
  • The cockpit project - Manager your server in a web browser and perform system tasks with a mouse.
  • Anaconda installer - Anaconda is a free and open-source system installer for Linux distributions used in Fedora, RHEL, CentOS and other Linux distributions. 
  • Podman - a tool to create and maintain containers.
    Buildah - a tool to create and manage container images
  • Silverblue - a next-gen OS for the desktop 
  • CoreOS - a next-gen cloud appliance. 
  • Modularity - Modularity is a mechanism of making multiple versions of software available to your system.

Two upgrades per year

Because Fedora releases happen twice a year, you'll get big system updates (including Gnome, GCC and base libs) twice a year. It's the best way to have up to date software without the complexities and issues rolling release distros have.
Upgrading is as simple as 2 clicks on the Software app or 4 commands from the terminal.

Universal Linux Packages

You know you can install software using the package repos. Another option is using Snap or FlatPak. And installation is as simple as opening Software -> Searching and clicking install.

RHEL

Many people ignore this but another strong reason to use Fedora is because it's RHEL's upstream. You'll be using with Yum/DNF, SystemD, SELinux, and testing what will be available on the next RHEL, the leading Linux-based OS on servers. Invaluable knowledge to have.

CentOS

Fedora is also upstream for CentOS, the 

Multiple Variants 

Don't like GNOME? Fedora also ships different spins including KDE, Xfce, LXQt, MATE, Cinnamon, LXDE and SoaS (Sugar on a Stick), available in both 64-bit and 32-bit versions. It has even an ARM release.

Fedora in some of its variants
You can also find on Labs, variants that are target to designers, astronomers, scientists and musicians.

A multitude of options for your desktop

Don't like the default? You can always change. For example, check this post to learn more about a multitude of desktops and window managers available on Fedora 31. Among my favourites:
  • i3 and Sway - my choice! ❤ 
  • XFCE - also use on my cloud instances, including on my Ubuntu instance on azure
  • KDE - an excellent desktop for your Linux PC
  • GNOME - I also have it installed at home as a fallback in case my i3 breaks (never happened 😊)

Innovation

Speaking of innovation, Fedora is a perfect distro to try new things. For example:
Still on tiling Window Managers: I'm currently using the i3 window manager and really like it (screenshot below). For more information check my blog post on why i3 is awesome, how to install it and why it will change the way you use your Linux desktop.
Source: http://orig09.deviantart.net/3f05/f/2016/177/d/9/gentoo_linux___i3_wm___by_irenicus09-da7obes.png

So Fedora is perfect?

Of course not! No software is perfect as no software will ever by bug-free. Especially in a huge and extremely complex project such as an operating system. In my opinion, what matters most is how those bugs are handled by the community. For example, check this discussion regarding Java packaging to see how the community self-organized to address the problem. We prefer running open, safe and cutting edge-software. Need a more sound environment for the server, go with CentOS. Want to go even more cutting edge? Go with Silverblue.

What I want to stress is how open the community is for onboarding members. As previously mentioned, everyone can collaborate and even write articles for the Fedora Magazine. All communication is shared online and the teams are structured to help newcomers trough mentoring programs.

Conclusion

Fedora is a polished, stable and secure GNU/Linux OS. Is it perfect, no? But IMHO it's the distro that offers the best trade off between modern FLOSS software, openness and inclusion. With all its variants, I'm pretty sure there will be something for everyone. If you have never used it, I would suggest that you try it, regardless of your technical background. If you use another distro, I would kindly recommend that you to download Fedora and give it a try.

And if you love the Fedora distribution like me, don't hesitate sending a big thank you to the @Fedora community on Twitter.

References

See Also

For other posts about Linux on this blog, please click here.
Do you have any comment or suggestion about this post? Please contact me @BrunoHilden