Red Hat tips brim over Fedora project

Red Hat Inc. on Thursday announced the first release of a free operating system derived from the Fedora Project – Fedora Core 1.

Sponsored by Red Hat and supported by the open source community, the Fedora Project and the Fedora Core 1 is a complete Linux platform that is built solely from open source software, as is the Fedora Project’s first release.

Earlier this week, Red Hat announced it would stop providing Red Hat Linux for free in favour of its Enterprise product [Please see Red Hat to drop Linux OS in favour of enterprise.]

Brian Stevens, vice-president of OS development at the company, said Red Hat’s Linux was very much developed under a proprietary model, where new releases were put out every 12 to 15 months. He explained that the company wanted to participate in a more community-based initiative, which is why it started the Fedora project about six months ago and dropped the free Red Hat Linux product.

Unlike commercial offerings, Fedora Core 1 will be released on a fixed schedule – every four to six months – and anyone is free to kick-start their own project based on Fedora. However, Red Hat will build new capabilities from Fedora into its own Enterprise edition.

“What happened was we were in the middle of the usual Red Hat Linux development process and in the middle of that we switched gears and realized that we wanted to do something more open,” Stevens said.

Now, all the developers that were working on the free OS will be working on the Fedora project in conjunction with other developers in the community, he said.

“We really wanted to grow the number of developers,” Stevens explained. “It scales much farther if [instead of having] a couple of hundred people at Red Hat working on it, that you end up getting thousands of developers working on it. You can move the technology along a lot quicker.”

Nicholas Petreley, an analyst with Evans Group Corp. in Santa Cruz, Calif., and author of the Fedora user manual, said that this project could remedy the perception in the open source community that Red Hat was taking and not giving back.

“It helps Red Hat be perceived as building something that is managed and driven more by the community than by Red Hat. Red Hat does have the power of veto and does have the final say of what goes in [Fedora], but they’re really turning a lot more of the control over to the community,” he said.

Petreley also explained that Fedora solves a problem some Linux users had: they didn’t like using Red Hat because with its infrequent release schedule, they didn’t have access to the latest technology associated with Linux.

One thing users will find with Fedora is that it is completely devoid of any proprietary technology, Petreley said. For example, it’s not going to include MP3 players or Macromedia Flash and, even though he said it is a fully-graphical user-friendly platform, it might not appeal to some users because it won’t be as easy for them to get plug-ins for software that is not open source.

In the next edition, he said Fedora Core 2 will make it easier for users to get these plug-ins. For example, a button will be included so users can go to the site where they can download a needed plug-in. It will also integrate the new Linux 2.6 kernel.

Red Hat is headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., and is online at The Fedora Project is online at