Interview with Jared Smith, Fedora Project Leader

Subject: Editorial | May 21, 2011 - 08:41 PM |
Tagged: Red Hat, open-source, open source, linux, Fedora

In a continuation of our effort to embrace and report on the open-source community, PC Perspective has contacted another very interesting Open-Source project. This week we selected Fedora and their Project Leader Jared Smith.

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(Image courtesy of Fedora)

Fedora is self-described as:

Fedora is a Linux-based operating system, a collection of software that makes your computer run. You can use Fedora in addition to, or instead of, other operating systems such as Microsoft Windows™ or Mac OS X™. The Fedora operating system is completely free of cost for you to enjoy and share.

The Fedora Project is the name of a worldwide community of people who love, use, and build free software from around the globe. We want to lead in the creation and spread of free code and content by working together as a community. Fedora is sponsored by Red Hat, the world's most trusted provider of open source technology. Red Hat invests in Fedora to encourage collaboration and incubate innovative new free software technologies.

Fedora also lists its features as the following:

  • 100% Free & Open Source: Fedora is 100% gratis and consists of free & open source software.
  • Thousands of Free Apps!: With thousands of apps across 10,000+ packages, Fedora's got an app for you.
  • Virus- and Spyware-Free: No more antivirus and spyware hassles. Fedora is Linux-based and secure.
  • Worldwide Community: Built by a global community of contributors, there's a local website for you.
  • An Amazingly Powerful OS: Fedora is the foundation for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a powerful enterprise OS.
  • Share it with Friends!: Fedora is free to share! Pass it along to your friends and family, no worry!
  • Beautiful Artwork: Compute in style with many open & beautiful wallpapers and themes!
  • Millions of Installations: Fedora has been installed millions of times. It's a large community to join!

 

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(Image courtesy of Distrowatch)

I have used Fedora since it was Fedora Core, which has been almost eight years now. Fedora is a community-supported distrobution that is sponsored by Red Hat. Fedora is known for being on the leading edge of technology at the time of shipment. Their release cycle is every 6 months and they are very transparent as to what will be included and excluded. Fedora has a huge community and tries to involve everyone and encourages participation. If you need any help with using Fedora or have any questions, they can be answered by; Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Documentation, IRC, and Mailing Lists.

Now that you have a brief idea about Fedora, lets get to the interview:

(Hit that Read More link for the details!!)

PcPer: How do you feel hardware support is on your current platform/s and what are your plans for the future?

JS: Hardware support in Linux in general (and in Fedora specifically) has dramatically improved over the past several years. Most devices on the market are supported directly by the Linux kernel, and don't require any sort of third-party driver to operate. We have tried to make it as easy as possible to get common devices such as printers working without a lot of effort on the part of the end user -- in many cases, it's easier to get a printer installed and working on Fedora than any other operating system. Looking toward the future, the open source development model of Linux and Fedora means we're much faster at supporting new hardware than most other operating systems.

 

PC Per: What could be better about hardware support? What do you need from manufacturers?

JS: Of course, there are still a few places where open-source drivers and hardware support are lagging behind their proprietary counterparts. Two of the most commonly discussed are graphics chip-sets and wireless adapters. We have made tremendous strides in both of those areas, and will continue to invest time and effort into improving support in these areas. The biggest thing that manufacturers can do to help is to make their hardware specifications available to Linux developers, even if it's only available to a small team under a non-disclosure agreement. This makes it easier for Linux developers to write drivers more quickly, rather than having to rely on educated guesses about how the hardware operates. If we could convince more hardware vendors that shipping a closed "black box" solution isn't sustainable over the long term, we'd be well on our way to better hardware support. Luckily, we're seeing more and more hardware vendors catch the spirit of openness and transparency in working with Linux developers. Several Linux developers have even gone so far as to offer to write Linux drivers for free for those hardware vendors that make their specifications available to them.

 

PcPer: How do you think performance in Fedora compares to Windows or Mac OS X? How could it be better?

JS: Performance is something we take very seriously in Fedora, and we try to address performance on a number of different levels. In terms of raw computing power, it's pretty obvious that Linux is the preferred platform for high-performance computing around the world. Just look at the top one hundred supercomputers in the world, and how many of them are running Linux. Then look to the opposite spectrum, and look at how many embedded system and mobile devices are based on Linux. It should be very obvious that Linux scales very well. Because Fedora is based on the Linux kernel and takes an active role in kernel development, we're able to bring great performance to Fedora users. In Fedora, we not only look at CPU performance, but we also look at other areas of performance, such as boot times, memory management, file systems, and power management. For example, Fedora 15 will be shipping with a new initialization system known as systemd, which will allow for a better boot experience, both in terms of speed and in terms of making the system smarter about which services need to be started at boot time. The Fedora power management team has also been working on helping Fedora make more efficient use of power on mobile systems such as laptops and netbooks. Several of the Fedora developers are also focusing on better memory management with regards to virtualization. All of these factors make Fedora a very compelling choice from a performance standpoint.

 

PcPer: Do you consider Fedora to be a viable gaming platform? If so, why are there so few games?

JS: While it's certainly possible to run a wide variety of games on Linux, I couldn't say that it is a mainstream gaming platform. The vast majority of game developers don't target their games for Linux. That being said, there are a number of game engines that work well on Fedora, and each month brings more and more support. The Fedora community has formed a special interest group around gaming, and works to help make Fedora a better platform for gaming as well as to highlight the best open source games that are available.

 

PcPer: What are your plans for the future of this platform? What is new and up-coming?

JS: First of all, Fedora is engineered for the long haul. We've made a conscious decision not to sacrifice long-term freedom for short-term convenience. Our development efforts are based on the idea of software and personal freedoms. If you look at the vision statement for the Fedora Project as a whole, you'll see it's about much more than just the bits and bytes on the latest DVD. Our vision statement says that "The Fedora Project creates a world where free culture is welcoming and widespread, collaboration is commonplace, and people control their content and devices." Our work really is centered on the concepts of freedom and free culture, communication and collaboration, openness and transparency, and the open source development model. The main work product of our community is the Fedora operating system. We release a new version of Fedora approximately every six months. The Fedora 15 release is currently scheduled for May 24th, 2011. Some of the highlights of this latest release include a revamped desktop environment with Gnome Shell, the systemd initialization system, dynamic firewalls, and more consistent network device naming, just to name a few. We hope you'll take the time to visit the Fedora Project website and download the latest version of Fedora and try it for yourself.

 

I would like to thank Jared Smith for taking the time for this interview and can't wait until Fedora 15 comes out! Thank you for reading, and please let us know if you feel we have left any questions out by your comments and we will include them in future interviews.

To download the recent stable Fedora 15 to give it a try, click here.

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