Pin Me

What is a Fedora Distribution and is It Right for You?

written by: Sam OBrien•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 1/11/2010

If you've ever asked what is a Fedora distribution, you may be one of the millions of people who are switching to a Linux operating system. Learn how to obtain Fedora free of charge, how to try it without risking a current Windows installation, and where to find free technical support.

  • slide 1 of 8

    What is a Fedora Distribution? Many who are interested in trying or switching to this Linux operating system would like straightforward answers. Personal Computer (PC) users of MS Windows who have very little familiarity with open source software should first have a basic understanding of what Linux is. Linux is the kernel or core of a free operating system that was developed by a man named Linus B. Torvalds in 1991. Mr Torvalds, fortunately, chose to release his software under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The license permits anyone to always obtain at least the kernel and usually an entire operating system based on it, free of charge by download. Anyone may manipulate the source code to meet specific computing needs, and even redistribute his new version to the public for free or for a fee.

  • slide 2 of 8

    A Brief History of Red Hat Linux

    So, what is a Fedora distribution and what does it have to do with the Linux kernel? Everything. Quite simply, Fedora is based on the kernel just as hundreds of other distributions are. The kernel is the core or "heart" of Linux operating systems upon which developers build to create the system they desire and need. You may have heard of Red Hat Linux or Red Hat Fedora. In 1994, Bob Young and Marc Ewing formed a partnership to create Red Hat for the purpose of engineering and marketing a Linux distribution easy to install and manage. The name of their software product line was Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The Red Hat Linux operating system was sold in stores at much lower prices than Microsoft Windows. However, few people who didn't have some knowledge of programming could work with it. It was also the company's last consumer-based releases to be sold in stores.

  • slide 3 of 8

    The Birth of Fedora Linux

    This is when Fedora appeared. Red Hat released the work it had done to be merged with the development efforts of an existing Fedora Linux project. This is when Fedora Core, now known only as Fedora, was born. The company now concentrates its efforts almost exclusively on the development and improvement of enterprise and corporate Linux-based software and services. This doesn't mean, however, that Red Hat has abandoned its free "version" of Linux, Fedora. The improvements made on the company's enterprise and corporate software are incorporated into Fedora and the improvements made on Fedora are also included in Red Hat enterprise Linux. This makes for a very beneficial relationship between the free and community supported Fedora and the fee-based corporate Red Hat.

  • slide 4 of 8

    Indeed, it can be understood why Red Hat is accredited with having made the most valuable contributions to the world of open source software. Learning more about a Fedora distribution also involves at least a brief introduction to the computing power of this free operating system.

  • slide 5 of 8

    The Computing Power of Fedora

    Fedora Linux is available free of charge by download from FedoraProject.org or it may be purchased very economically as a live CD or DVD from DiscountLinuxDVD.com. The advantage of a live CD is that you don't have to jeopardize any current installation of operating systems you may have. Fedora is one of the most automated distros available allowing the curious to simply run it on the fly or accept default options for installation. This removes the burden of having to understand how to partition and reformat a hard drive, although this knowledge is helpful.

  • slide 6 of 8

    Fedora will provide you with the FireFox web browser for surfing the Internet, a very powerful email client called Evolution, word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software in the OpenOffice suite of applications. Some releases of Fedora also include Base, a database management system also by OpenOffice. You will have access to the GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), software that's very similar in function and power to Adobe's Photoshop. Through Pidgin, you'll be able to talk to your friends and family via Instant Messaging (IM). There's a host of games available, the ability to have Voice Over IP (VOIP), and so much more. Additionally, you may obtain literally hundreds of other free applications available at Fedora's repositories.

  • slide 7 of 8

    You'll be able to play your audio Compact Discs (CD's) and .avi video files immediately after an on-the-fly session is up running or after a full install to the local disk. However, because Fedora uses only open source software, the distribution doesn't support multimedia requiring proprietary codes. Nevertheless, with some maneuvering and tweaking you can obtain this functionality. So, what is a Fedora distribution? It's a free Linux-based operating system offering freedom, powerful computing, stability, and access to more software than you could need.

  • slide 8 of 8

    A screenshot of My Fedora Desktop: Click to See