Introducing Fedora Linux






Introducing Fedora Linux

In September 2003, while in the middle of developing the successor to Red Hat Linux 9 (presumably Red Hat Linux 10), Red Hat, Inc., made a startling announcement. It was merging its Red Hat Linux development with Fedora Linux (www.fedora.us) into a new initiative: The Fedora Project.

Suddenly, it seemed, there was no flagship Red Hat Linux product anymore. Users would have to choose between the subscription-based Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the community-supported Fedora Project. The Red Hat Linux product in development was renamed and eventually released as Fedora Core 1.

Common reactions to the abandonment of Red Hat Linux for Fedora ranged from surprise, to confusion, to anger. As the dust settles, however, the logic of this move and the potential upside for the open-source community has already begun to emerge.

Learning Linux Troubleshooting with Fedora

The Fedora Project is being touted as a Red Hat-sponsored and community-supported open-source project. Its mission is to produce a Linux distribution called Fedora Core (sometimes also referred to as Fedora Linux), which in its first release was built from the Red Hat Linux code base. The distribution would be re-released every 4 to 6 months.

With the name change and its association with Red Hat, Inc., changing so suddenly, there has been a lot of speculation about what exactly Fedora is and how well it can be relied upon. Let's start by separating the facts from the speculation about Fedora:

  • Fedora is essentially Red Hat Linux 10-A good case can be made for this statement. Up until the last 2 months of the development process, what is now called Fedora Core 1 was being developed as the next release of Red Hat Linux. Most of the last-minute changes had to do with changing logos and expanding access to software repositories (which we will discuss later).

  • Fedora Core 1 is a solid Linux system-Hundreds of bug fixes and improvements were made during the development process. There were not a tremendous number of new features added to the Red Hat Linux 9 base. By most accounts, Fedora Core 1 is a rock-solid Linux distribution.

  • Red Hat, Inc., supports Fedora-It is clear that Red Hat, Inc., wants to create high-quality software from the Fedora Project. Most of the technology in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 matches almost exactly the same software packages in Fedora Core 1. Red Hat, Inc., plans to use Fedora as a proving ground for its enterprise products. It doesn't have the resources to maintain and enhance the entire Linux operating system and related applications itself. Fedora is critical to Red Hat's success.

  • Fedora is a path to Red Hat Enterprise-Some people like to use a freely distributed Linux as a means of showing a reluctant boss or IT department that Linux will work in their business. With Fedora Core 1, you can demonstrate many of the same features that are in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3. Future releases of Fedora could be used to evaluate new technologies in which a company may be interested. (See the description of Fedora Core 2 later in this chapter.)

  • Fedora offers more software-For someone interested in trying software that is outside of the corporate software model (such as games, audio, and video), Fedora Core offers dozens more packages than does Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It also contains tools, such as yum, for downloading complete sets of applications from software repositories in Red Hat RPM format.

  • Fedora has the latest technology-Here's where some of the risks (and opportunities) lie with Fedora. Because Fedora is slated to come out two to three times per year, it can incorporate the latest software available for Linux. This should make Fedora Core a great operating system for keeping your knowledge and troubleshooting skills up to date. However, this should also have the effect of making some releases of Fedora less stable. You might find yourself picking and choosing a Fedora Core release to use as your server.

  • Fedora offers critical updates and patches-This has been the biggest concern for those who have been using Red Hat Linux as a server for their businesses or organizations. The amount of time that critical updates will be officially supported by Red Hat for Fedora Core is shorter than it was for Red Hat Linux. The Fedora Legacy Project (www.fedoralegacy.org), as well as other organizations, is stepping up to deal with this issue. (See Chapter 3 for discussions of how to solve the update and upgrade issues with Fedora.)

The bottom line is that Fedora offers great technology in a freely distributed Linux system. Yes, there are fewer guarantees from Red Hat, Inc., if you want to bet your business on Fedora. However, if the prospect of going it alone with Fedora is exciting but somewhat daunting to you, we are here to tell you that you don't have to go it alone. If you decide to go with Fedora (or at least look into it further), Linux Troubleshooting Bible is here to give you (or help you find) the resources you need to support it.

Finding Opportunities with Fedora

If you take the time to learn how to troubleshoot Fedora, what kinds of Linux systems can you support with your new skills? The short answer is: any kind of system you could set up with Red Hat Linux. The software in Fedora supports desktop, workstation, and server systems, and is being used for a variety of specialty uses.

Fedora Linux Desktop

As with most Linux and UNIX systems, Fedora Core uses the X Window System as the foundation for its graphical user interface (GUI). It also offers the GNOME and KDE desktop environments. If you don't want to use a full-blown desktop environment, you can use other window managers that come with Fedora instead, such as the Tab Window manager and Motif Window manager.

Figure illustrates the GNOME desktop, including two panels, the Nautilus graphical shell and the Konqueror web browser/file manager.

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Figure: Choose between GNOME and KDE desktops, based on the X Window System.

Fedora comes with all the basic desktop applications you would expect to find on a Linux desktop: editors, web browsers, office productivity applications, music players, and graphics programs. Using yum and apt repositories, you can add to the hundreds of desktop applications that come with Fedora Core.

Whether you are supporting dozens of desktop systems or just a few, this book covers how to troubleshoot installation (Chapter 2), your video card, mouse, and keyboard (Chapter 7), and software packages (Chapter 8). Chapter 4 tells how to lock down a Fedora desktop system, and Chapter 3 describes how to get critical updates for your desktop system.

Fedora Linux Servers

All the basic server features that came with Red Hat Linux are in Fedora Core. Graphical configuration tools developed for Red Hat Linux are included in Fedora Core, as are a variety of commands and graphical utilities for troubleshooting your servers.

Figure illustrates the categories of server software in Fedora from the Package Management window.

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Figure: Advanced network server software once in Red Hat Linux is included in Fedora.

Despite the lack of guarantees from Red Hat, Inc., for supporting more than a short update period for Fedora systems, a group of people committed to using Fedora as a server have rallied around the Fedora Legacy Project (see Chapter 3 for details). Their goal is to provide the long-term support for Fedora that it needs to be a viable server operating system.

Most of the troubleshooting skills you will gain from this book are aimed at server troubleshooting. While we briefly touch on Red Hat-specific graphical administration tools, techniques for working with server configuration files and command-line tools will help you develop a skill set that applies to most Linux and UNIX systems.

For small office servers and personal servers, you can probably use Fedora Core. For larger installations, you might consider purchasing Red Hat Enterprise Linux server subscriptions. In either case, the skills for troubleshooting both distributions will be the same.

In terms of how server topics are covered in this book, we have divided the chapters into three major sections. The chapters in Part IV focus on how to troubleshoot your network with an eye toward security (Chapter 10 covers how to detect and deal with intruders), and then describe specific techniques to troubleshoot your firewalls (Chapter 11), domain name system server (Chapter 12), and modems (Chapter 13).

Fedora Linux Workstation

A Linux workstation is basically thought of as a desktop system used for software development. There are well over 100 software packages that come with Fedora Core that fall under the heading of development packages (see Figure for an illustration of software development package groups in Fedora).

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Figure: Software development tools are spread across more than 100 software packages in Fedora.

Troubleshooting skills needed to support Fedora Linux workstations are pretty much the same skills you would need to support any desktop system.

Specialty Fedora Linux Systems

Because there are no licensing fees associated with Fedora Core, people have already begun using it to create their own specialized Linux systems. For example, bootable live CD Linux distributions created from Fedora include ADIOS Linux Boot CD (http://dc.qut.edu.au/adios) and RPM Live Linux CD (http://nwst.de/livelinuxcd).

Many companies creating devices that use embedded Linux systems have leaned toward Red Hat Linux in the past. According to the 2003 LinuxDevices.com Embedded Linux Market Survey, Red Hat Linux was the preferred Linux source/vendor for embedded Linux systems. With 14.4 percent of embedded Linux systems being based on Red Hat Linux (with only homegrown Linux systems beating it, with an 18 percent share), Red Hat Linux captured a substantial share of the embedded systems market. The fact that most surveyed (63.9 percent) considered no royalties as being the most important feature for choosing a Linux distribution for creating their embedded systems means that we can expect Fedora to carry on that tradition. Whether you hope to build your own embedded or other specialty Linux system some day, the skills you learn in Linux Troubleshooting Bible will help you not only get your systems working, but understand the range of features that lie beneath the surface of Linux. Even if it's just in the area of fun projects, such as those included with Linux Toys (www.linuxtoys.net), learning to troubleshoot Fedora can be a useful skill. Figure illustrates the Linux Toys Television Recorder/Player.

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Figure: Linux Toys and other hobbyist applications will run on Fedora Core.


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