In the last few months I have come into custody of a few new machines for work. I decided to install Fedora, first on my workstation (an 8-core monster) and then on the laptop (an all-Intel Thinkpad X61), for ideological and social reasons. It's like this: Fedora is the new Ubuntu.
Ubuntu was great in its early days, because it took upstream to the people, bringing the 6-month GNOME release cycle into users' hands quickly and predictably. But over the past year or two Ubuntu has become less and less interesting. Part of it, I feel, is that Ubuntu strays too far from free software. Ubuntu is willing to accept and accomodate proprietary software in the distribution. In a related fashion, resources that go into Ubuntu/Canonical do not, in a large part, go to further the development of free software, because most development that Canonical pays for goes into the downstream product "Ubuntu" and not into the larger free software world of the kernel, glibc, GTK+, GNOME, etc.
This admittedly broad-stroked characterization stands in marked contrast with Fedora/Red Hat. Fedora is the distro used by most people that are hacking on the parts of the free software desktop that are important to me and my machines: the people hacking X and the intel drivers (
Anholt -- ed: works for Intel, hacks FreeBSD, Jackson, Airlie), the people hacking all the interesting hardware integration (Zeuthen, Hughes, Larsson), the people hacking the core GNU toolchain (Drepper), the people maintaining core GNOME libraries (Clasen, Worth, Esfahbod), etc. And, of course, the kernel.
Furthermore, Fedora finally seems to be turning into a real community project, rather than a simple testing-ground for RHEL. The unification of Core and Extras is the most visible sign of this change. Fedora's where it's at.
Anyway, with my recent laptop install, I'm in week three of the new all-Fedora world. It's been OK to me thus far, once I got over the culture shock. Yes, yum is still much slower than apt, although it has gotten better recently, and rpm's incredibly non-orthogonal interface is just beyond my understanding. And of course I turned off SELinux entirely on the laptop. I don't think I'll be moving over my servers -- Debian is too perfect -- but for a desktop machine, Fedora rides close to upstream development, which keeps things interesting.