I’m with Fedora in 2012
March 16, 2012 1 Comment
I posted a few months ago that I had gone back to Debian. Recently, though, I wanted to try out something different. The most important thing for me was the philosophy of the distribution. I believe that Debian is a true torch bearer for free and open source software while being pragmatic about proprietary stuff. Ubuntu gives off many mixed signals. OpenSUSE is technically a very good distribution but I fear that any contribution I make to it (tutorials, evangelism, etc.) will end up in SUSE, a product that is not the best representation of the Linux community. Fedora is very similar to Debian, albeit a bit stricter in its support for free and open source software.
Fedora has lots of good attributes that made me choose it for this year. The biggest issue for me was that any contribution I can make to it should help the general Linux community. Fedora’s primary downstream, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, is a product that gives back to the Linux ecosystem much more than some others. So I would rather use Fedora and help RHEL than use OpenSUSE and help SUSE.
I saw a post on reddit recently (Is it legal to sell computers with Ubuntu pre-installed?) and it prompted me to look at the trademark policies of Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora. Fedora has a very open and friendly policy when compared to Ubuntu’s policy.
Looking at marketing, OpenSUSE talking points are very convincing. Similarly, Fedora’s talking points also give a wonderful overview of the project’s philosophy, goals, and methods. In the end I chose the downstream product as the defining choice (RHEL over SUSE).
Fedora is a community much like Debian. Red Hat does sponsor Fedora but I have not yet seen any overt influence on the direction of Fedora by Red Hat. Ubuntu is a collaboration between a community and a corporate entity (Canonical), with the corporate wing having an overwhelming say in the direction of the project. OpenSUSE is a community but how independent it is from corporate (Novell, SUSE, AttachMate, Microsoft) influence is difficult to understand as an outsider (although I’m certainly interested in learning more about it).
Debian has a very thorough process of becoming a maintainer. Fedora has a similar process to join the package collection maintainers. Both Ubuntu (PPA) and OpenSUSE (OBS) have a lower bar to entry to becoming a package maintainer. But they also have an issue of trust; can I trust the person who created this package? Mostly the answer is no because the maintainer has not gone through the vetting process that Debian and Fedora maintainers go through.
Fedora is known to stick as close to upstream as possible, with minimal patching when required. This unlike Debian and Ubuntu because they are both known to heavily patch upstream code. This means that Fedora gives you a close experience to what the original authors created.
Fedora has almost the same number of packages as Debian (for those that I’m interested in) but has a widely different strategy: cutting-edge versus stable. I also like the quick release cycle of 6 months where new software is released piecemeal (firewalld, systemd, etc.) or held off (BTRFS as default) if it still isn’t good enough.
Finally, I just love the Fedora logo and the logos for its foundations (freedom, friends, features, and first). I highly rate the logos of Fedora and FreeBSD. Debian’s logo is too simple for my taste, Ubuntu has a distinctive and recognizable logo, and OpenSUSE could have at least attempted to make Geeko prettier.
As I use Fedora more and more, I’ll come to know some of its shortcomings and I’ll try to point them out for the benefit of others. One that I came across right off the bat is SELinux. It’s not a shortcoming per se but its complexity causes more headaches for server use than a beginner can handle outright. With time, of course, I’ll learn to use and love it.
I want to give OpenSUSE an honest try but the misgivings about the ulterior motives of its downstream prevents me from using it wholeheartedly. I have said this before that OpenSUSE needs to become independent and then others like me (on the fence) will give it the support it deserves.
I plan to use Fedora as a server although it’s not meant for server use. They are not going to be mission critical servers but hobby projects just to learn how the future RHEL might look and work. I want to push myself in learning something vastly different from the Debian and Ubuntu world and I believe Fedora is a good first step.