Fedora, besides being a type of hat, is the name given to the Linux distribution born from Red Hat Linux because Red Hat, Inc., did not want to surrender to the retail compromises that plague commercial products. Warren Togami had already started a community for building high-quality RPM packages for Red Hat Linux, and because the objectives between his and Red Hat s own requirements were similar, the projects were merged and the Fedora distribution was born. Red Hat s open source project, known as the Red Hat Linux Project, merged with the Fedora project. Red Hat, Inc., provided backing and guidance, with a great deal of community involvement. The Fedora release is an open source distribution with the latest packages, while the Red Hat Enterprise distributions are commercially robust distributions.
While some of the community may have been skeptical at such a change, the merge presents a good solution to both parties, and above all, the end user . Red Hat now has a distribution that can feed its commercial offerings, while the end users have a distribution that is not only backed by the ever diligent open source community, but also by a corporation with the standing of Red Hat.
The distribution is based on version 2.6 of the Linux kernel; this itself has a number of improvements that are worthy of mention. In addition, a large number of packages are available for the four installation types that are offered to you when you install. Let s take a look at some of these improvements and packages.
The new kernel now provides support for both much larger and much smaller systems, for example, personal digital assistants (PDAs). This is in part due to the merge of the uCLinux project that has enabled the use of the Linux kernel for embedded systems such as mobile phones, PDAs, and other devices.
Another major change is the ability of the Linux kernel to support much larger systems by embracing support for Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) systems, something now used on systems that typically have multiple processors.
There are numerous other advances that you may wish to read up on (see www.kniggit.net/wwol26.html ), but we ll warn you now: the concepts mentioned are not for beginners .
You may have heard the term Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux ). SELinux was developed by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to separate the permissions for users, programs, processes, files, and devices so that applications may be granted only the permissions they require to function. This level of isolation, termed Mandatory Access Control (MAC) , ensures that security can t be circumvented by rogue applications. This removes some of the problems in having an all-powerful root user account, which would otherwise mean that if a hacker had cracked the password for the root user, anything was possible.
The distribution is split into a number of key areas, including the following:
Anaconda Installer: This is the installation project that during installation identifies the hardware and installs the distribution and files required to run the product. This enables the user to get up and running far more quickly, without having to worry about the intricacies of which particular display adapter he or she has installed.
Artwork: This encapsulates all artwork for the project including icons, backgrounds, and themes. The overall look and feel of the Fedora product is very professional; the clean lines and clear, color icons create a feel that the user is comfortable working in.
Configuration Tools: This project aims to provide user interfaces to common tasks . These include operations such as disk partitioning, general development, and so on.
Desktop: This project includes the X Window system, the desktop shell, and applications. This graphical user interface (GUI) now provides a powerful interface that rivals the likes of Microsoft or Mac.
Translations: This project provides the translation of applications and documentation into the various different languages for which the distribution is to be made available. At the time of writing, this includes some ten languages, including German, French, Spanish, and Italian.
Docs: This project produces text-based documentation that is easy to follow and included with the distribution. This means that documentation for a package is on hand and available to guide you through those tasks that you may find difficult.
Packages: A package is an application or set of applications that offers functionality that you may find useful. For example, Microsoft Office is a set of applications that offers office productivity tools such as a word processor. The same is true of Fedora; a wide range of packages are available out of the box or for download.
Some packages that you are likely to encounter everyday follow:
OpenOffice: OpenOffice offers a comprehensive, out-of-the-box office productivity suite that rivals the Windows equivalent, Microsoft Office. It includes project management, word processing, spreadsheet, and financial applications.
Mozilla: This is the granddaddy of all Internet browsers and arguably still the best.
Evolution: This application offers functionality similar to its Windows counterpart , Microsoft Outlook, managing all your e- mails , contacts, and calendar requirements.
Nautilus: This is a graphical filesystem explorer, offering you Microsoft Explorer “type functionality on the Linux platform.
Multimedia applications: These are in abundance , from playing CDs or MP3s to creating your own DVDs, movies, or digital photograph albums.
We could continue ad infinitum, but we ll leave the fun of discovering the packages and their capabilities to you.