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Re: Fedora Core == Linux? -- I gotta make a FAQ on this ...

On Sat, 2003-12-20 at 03:19, Travite Davies wrote:
> Hey Guys
> I was just curious on what everyone thought of Fedora Core. Is there
> really a difference in the overall OS design? I mean, it still runs
> the same Linux Kernel right?

- Fedora Core (FC) Releases

The Fedora Core (FC) Release 1 is formerly known as Red Hat Linux (RHL)
10.  It is largely RHL 9 application binary interface (ABI) compatible. 
But it should be understood that RHL 7.3 marked the last 4-6 month
subrevision Red Hat made that maintained 18-24 month ABI compatibility
(largely same GCC/GLibC) with all subrevisions of the same version
(7.x).  All RHL 8+ did not, and all FC will not, guarantee
inter-releases ABI compatiblity between each 4-6 month release.

All former Red Hat Linux maintainers at Red Hat still work on FC, but
the project has changed the leadership (see below).  But Red Hat
maintainers will no longer support releases more than 2-3 months beyond
the next release (i.e. supported only 6-9 months, although a year will
probably be typical).  Likewise, all commercial support offerings from
Red Hat, from Independent Hardware Vendor (IHV) / Independent Software
Vendor (ISV) certification to telephone and e-mail support options will
no longer be offered from Red Hat.

In a nutshell, Red Hat found it not difficult to support 3-4
simultaneous releases of only 6 months, but the strategy solved neither
the wants of the community (who wanted input), nor the commercial
industry (who wanted longer lifecycles).

- Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 2.1 was releases, based on RHL 7.3,
before the Fedora project was considered.  The idea of RHEL was to
extend the release and support schedule 3-4x to accomodate the
commercial industry -- i.e., releases every 18 months (1.5 years),
support for 60-84 months (5-7 years).  AFAIK, no other commercial Linux
distributor is offering support for even half that long.

Red Hat expanded the product line in 2003 to include workstation and
entry server with the RHEL 3 release (based on RHL 9), and then decided
to convert RHL into the Fedora project.  Like RHL before it, RHEL _will_
_continue_ to be based on Fedora Core (FC), so as I heard one Red Hat
engineer put it, "it will still be in our best interest to ensure Fedora
Core is the best it can be."  Hence why all former RHL developers are FC
maintainers, and some work on RHEL as well.

_All_ RHEL packages that are not 3rd party licensed are available in
SRPM form.  Red Hat _continues_ to not only keep the "core" of RHEL "GPL
anal," but is one of the extremely few commercial Linux distributors to
have a 100% GPL-focused development team.  No commercial Linux
distributor has pumped out more GPL code.  Grab the SRPMS, follow a
HOWTO, and build your own RHEL -- people have done it.  ;-ppp

[ SIDE NOTE:  Red Hat is currently offering a 2:1 subscription price on
RHEL WS and ES releases until the end of February. ]

- The Fedora Project

Fedora is not just a distro, it's a on-going distribution project
similiar to Debian (a Democracy), but managed like the Apache Foundation
(a Meritocracy) with Red Hat as the founder.  This includes active Red
Hat support, including build servers, network infrastructure and paid
developers.  The organization is purposely designed to allow non-Red Hat
developers to be on the "steering committee" and make decisions on _all_
aspects, including the "Fedora Core" releases which replace Red Hat
Linux.   Best of all, Fedora was designed to answer another major
complaint of the community, to consolidate all non-Red Hat supported
community software, including replacements for core packages, and 3rd
party software that was not 100% distributable.

As such, Fedora is 5 repositories:
[ From http://fedora.redhat.com/participate/terminology.html ] 

- Fedora Core:  Again, replaces RHL, releases every 4-6 months

- Fedora Extras:  Consolidates previous, added RPM efforts (e.g.,
FreshRPMS.NET) into one distributed reference/server structure

- Fedora Alternatives:  Packages that can replace equivalent Fedora Core
packages (e.g., a MTA/SMTP service other than Postfix or Sendmail). 

- Fedora Legacy:  Unofficial updates for previous RHL versions (7.x - 9)
as well as FC releases no longer supported by the official Red Hat team
Fedora Meritocracy.

- Fedora Third Party:  Unofficial packages that typically have
redistribution limitations -- basically anything that does not match the
Open Source Guidelines.

Again, Red Hat provides the build systems, networks and other
infrastructure to support Fedora -- except for the last repository,
Fedora Third Party (for obvious legal reasons).  The first four must
have packages that conform to the Open Source Guidelines, and they can
be only self-requiring.  I.e., an "Extra" package can only depend on
another "Core" or "Extra" package, an "Alternatives" the first 3, etc...

Fedora is designed to be distributed like Debian, via either apt (from
Debian Linux, obviously) or yam (from Yellow Dog Linux).  I have yet to
try it, but I have second hand accounts that the "targetting" of
different repositories makes it cake to add various "Extras,"
"Alternatives" or "Third Party" packages -- beyond what you may have
been able to do with just FreshRPMS.NET in years prior with RHL.

- Independent Support Of Fedora

First and foremost, there has been the "deamonizing" of Red Hat on how
Fedora will only maintain security updates for 6-9 months (assume 12
months, as Red Hat commonly "unpromises and overdelivers").  Understand
this is _only_ how long Red Hat will _officialy_ put its developers on
Fedora security updates.  The "Fedora Legacy" respository has been setup
_not_only_ to allow the community support FC releases for much longer,
but even older RHL versions (7.x - 9)!  All using Red Hat built systems.

[ <attitude warning=on> (not directed to anyone specifically)
Would someone _please_ explain to me how this is different than
Debian???  The _community_ picks up the support in _both_ cases.  So,
the 18-24 month "free lunch" of RHL support from Red Hat is over.  Get
over it.  About the _only_ "mistake" I think Red Hat made was not
offering a way to upgrade from RHL to RHEL.  That was stupid, from a
commercial standpoint.  But RHL _does_ upgrade to FC _very_ easily!  If
Red Hat was really out to "screw" everyone into paying $$$, they would
have made it easy to upgrade to RHEL, and not FC. ;->
</attitude warning> ]

With that said, commercial support for older RHL releases is beign
offered by Progency ( http://www.progency.com -- founded, ironically, by
Debian's founder).  For $5/month per system, or $2,500/month for an
unlimited number of systems, Progency offers RHL 7.x - 9 updates.  You
can be sure this will also occur with FC as it is "officially
deprecated" in the Fedora project.  So even if the community fails to
support "Fedora Legacy," you can be sure Progency will be there.

- "Service" model versus "Commercial OS" + final words ...

This makes me wonder if Progency's "service" model will be more
profitable than Red Hat's RHEL "product" line in the end?  I'd normally
say yes -- OSes shouldn't be "fixed" in releases, but always updated and

Unfortunately, we live in a software world of _applications_.  End-users
like to "certify" a platform and its applications for usage of 5+
years.  The commercially "cost" isn't typically in the commercial OS. 
It's difficult to have IHV/ISV certification is you do not have a
commercial vendor, who has a commercial OS that is supported 5+ years.

Red Hat simply woke up to this, and created RHEL for the commercial
software industry.  With its efforts split, it decided to reduce the
lifecycle of RHL from 18-24 months to under 12 months.  When the
community complained, Red Hat decided to better accomodate them.  Fedora
is the project.  And I think Red Hat has made the best move it can.  

Their not "pawning off" responsibility to the community, RHL developers
are still working on FC.  Again, it's in their own, best interest, as
RHEL will _still_ be based on FC.

<attitude warning=on> (again, not directed to anyone specifically)
If you're going to criticize a company like Red Hat, be accurate, not
ignorant.  I see this same issue with Microsoft.  Sometimes there is
this "I hate #1 attitude" that comes through and is not technically
accurate.  Red Hat is _not_ the Microsoft of Linux!  Quite the
opposite!  There are far better commercial Linux distributors who are
far better candidates for this position -- given their non-GPL focus in
their own software development.
</attitude warning>

Bryan J. Smith, E.I.  mailto:b.j.smith@ieee.org  http://thebs.org
CCDP LPIC-2 MasCIWA MCSE2K+Sec RHCE9 SCNA8 SCSecA9 +20 more certs

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