What Is Fedora Linux?

A screenshot of the Fedora logo.

Fedora is a Linux distribution first introduced in 2003 and remains updated for over 14 years.

More on Fedora Linux

While Fedora is a Linux distribution, that doesn't give a great picture of what kind of distribution Fedora is or how it feels to run it on your computer.

Like most popular Linux distributions, Fedora is available free of charge. It features the latest software for Linux and follows a rapid release schedule. It offers a polished and complete experience, often serving as a showcase for new features and capabilities in the Linux world.

Fedora is also kind of odd. While it has some clear strong points, it has some unexpected weaknesses. It's known for having limited software repositories. Actually, it common practice to add the third party RPM Fusion repository immediately following a new install. The distribution is also known for missing it's ambitious release schedule nearly every time.

What is Fedora Good For?

Fedora is good for nearly anything that you'd want to do on your computer, but it's intended mostly for desktops. Fedora uses the GNOME desktop environment which provides an extremely smooth and well integrated experience. Because it includes the latest software, you'll always have new and exiting features on your desktop by using Fedora.

A screenshot of the Fedora Linux GNOME Desktop.

With the RPM Fusion repository, you gain access to the latest graphics drivers as well as a plethora of multimedia and gaming related software like Kodi and Steam.

Fedora really shines for work, though. It ships new development and system administration tools straight from Red Hat, making it an excellent choice for a developer workstation or a system admin's control center.

Fedora doesn't just excel at technical work. The distribution makes the latest versions of LibreOffice, Calibre, GIMP, Krita, and plenty of other programs used by creative and business professionals as well.

There is a server release of Fedora, and Fedora doesn't make for a bad server distribution, quite the opposite. The update cycle of this distribution s what makes it a less-than-ideal choice among system admins, especially for larger deployments. It does, however, work well as a server for testing out new versions of software before deployment into production.

Who Uses It?

Anyone can use Fedora. You can go right now and install it on your computer, if you choose. In fact, there aren't a whole lof of reasons not to choose Fedora as your Linux distribution. It's easily one of the best desktop offerings and has been for quite some time. The Fedora installer, Anaconda, is amazing. It's simple, intuitive, and provides enough flexibility and control to make your system your own.

That said, Fedora is fairly underused. It doesn't have the same popularity and widespread use as Ubuntu. It also doesn't have the same far-reaching press coverage. There are two major groups that use Fedora as their operating system of choice, system admins and developers.

Fedora is packed with tools for both sysadmins and developers, so it's no surprise that they gravitate toward it. The distro's release cycle also plays a major factor here too. The bleeding edge software allows developers access to new tools as soon as they're launched. For system admins, Fedora gives them access to new management programs and acts as a preview of features coming to later releases of more server oriented distributions.

Who Makes Fedora?

Red Hat, the largest Linux company and one of the biggest open source developers in the world, makes Fedora. Well, sort of. There is some confusing gray area here. Fedora is owned by Red Hat, and they provide professional developers and resources to the project. The multi-billion dollar giant also controls the direction of the distribution. On the other end, Fedora is mostly run and developed by volunteers. It's not entirely a corporate distribution and it's not entirely a community. It's a hybrid.

What Software's Available On Fedora?

Fedora's repositories may be limited, but with the inclusion of RPM Fusion and other third party repositories, there aren't many things that you can't find on Fedora.

A screenshot of the GNOME Software Center on Fedora

Linux distributions, all Linux distributions, have a different set of software than you'd expect on Windows or MacOS. They rely on the open source community for the majority of their software. That means you get alternatives like LibreOffice instead of the usual commercial options like Microsoft Office. That, by no means, translates to lesser quality software. It's different, but the vast majority is top-notch, and yes, completely free of charge.

A screenshot of various multimedia tools running on Fedora.

Fedora has good multimedia and gaming capabilities. You'll find all the great media tools like Kodi, VLC, and Handbrake to take full advantage of your videos. On the gaming front, you'll always have the latest drivers on Fedora along with Steam, Lutris, and Wine.

Don't forget about popular commercial software with Linux versions too. Fedora is actually one of the better commercially supported distributions. You won't have a problem getting programs like Slack, Discord, Spotify, or Google Chrome.

Where to Get Fedora

If you've decided to give it a try, you download Fedora at its site: getfedora.org. You'll be able to use it on a fairly modest machine. You'll need at least a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM and 10 GB of hard drive space. Remember, you need to have a flash drive with ~2 GB free in order to first install Fedora.