To a veteran user of other distributions, Fedora can be a challenge. Many things are not where you expect them to be. The default LVM volume allocations are a bit tricky. And packages including the kernel are frequently upgraded. So why switch after years of using other distributions?
In my case, for a variety of technical and political reasons, Fedora was the best option if I wanted to continue using Linux as my daily driver. If you are making the transition from another distribution, here are some observations and tips to get you started.
In Fedora you will find a community just as fiercely dedicated to its users and free software as Debian, as fanatical about polish and design as anyone in Ubuntu, and as passionate about learning and discovery as users of Arch or Slackware. Flowing under it all you will find a welcoming community dedicated to technical excellence. The form may change, but underneath all the trappings of systemd, dnf, rpm, and other differences, you will find a thriving healthy and growing community of people who have gathered together to make something awesome. Welcome to Fedora, and I hope you stay awhile.
The best way to get to know the Fedora community is to explore it for yourself. I hope a future article will highlight some of the more interesting aspects of Fedora for newcomers. Below are a few tips that I have put together to help you find your way around a new Fedora installation.
Install and explore
Installation proceeds as you would expect but be aware that you might want to adjust the LVM volume allocations in the install process or shortly afterwards or you might run low on space in a key place unexpectedly! Btrfs is also a supported option that is worth a look if you have lots of small disks.
As stated above Fedora has a software freedom commitment similar in spirit to that of Debian. This means that you should be able to give Fedora to anyone, anywhere without violating intellectual property laws. Any software which is either not licensed in a way that Fedora finds acceptable or that bears US patent encumbrances can be found in the rpmfusion.org repository.
After the install your next concern is undoubtedly configuring things and installing new packages. Fedora’s command-line package manager is dnf. It works as you would expect.
Note also that since rpm uses file-based dependency tracking instead of package-based dependency tracking, as almost all others do, there are very few traditional metapackages. There are, however, package groups. To get a list of package groups, the command is:
$ dnf group list
To get a list of all installed packages on the system, the command is:
$ rpm -qa
All rpm commands are easily filterable using traditional Unix tools. So you should have no trouble adapting your workflow to the new environment. All the information gathered with the below commands can also be gathered through the dnf command. For information gathering, I prefer to use the rpm command because it presents information in a way that is easily parseable by commands like grep. But if you are making changes to the system, it is easier and safer to use dnf.
To get a package’s version, description, and other metainformation the command is:
$ rpm -qi <packagename>
To list the contents of an installed package the command is:
$ rpm -ql <packagename>
One way in which rpm is easier to use then dpkg or the slack package tools is that rpm stores change log information for each package in the package manager database itself so it is very easy to diagnose whether an update might have broken or changed something unexpectedly. This command is:
$ rpm -q --changes <packagname>
On the kernel
Perhaps one of the most exciting differences between Fedora and other projects, for newcomers at least, is Fedora’s policy on the kernel. Fedora’s policy is to align the distribution’s kernel package life cycle with the upstream mainline kernel life cycle. This means that every Fedora release will have multiple major kernel versions during its lifetime.
This offers several advantages for both users and developers. Primarily, Fedora users are among the first to receive all of the latest drivers, security fixes, new features, etc.
If you do not have an installation that uses out-of-tree modules or custom patches this should not be much of concern to you. However, if you rely on a kernel module like zfs, for example. Rebuilding the filesystem module every 2-3 months can get tedious and error prone after a while. This problem only compounds if you depend upon custom patches for your system to work correctly. There is good news and bad news on this issue.
The good news is that Fedora’s process for building a custom kernel is well documented
The bad news is, as with all things kernel related in all projects, going the custom route means you’re on your own in terms of support. The 2-3 month lifecycle means you’ll be building modules and kernels far more often then you are used to. This may be a deal breaker for some. But even this offers an advantage to the discerning or adventuress user. You will find that being encouraged to rebase your custom kernel setup every two to three months will give you far greater insight into what is going on upstream in mainline Linux and the various out of tree projects you rely on.
Hopefully these tips will get you started exploring and configuring your new Fedora system. Once you have done that. I urge you to explore the community. Like any other free software product of Fedora’s age and size, there are a plethora of communication channels available. You should read the code of conduct and then head over to the communication page on the wiki to get started. As with the distribution itself, for all the differences in culture you will find that much remains the same.
DKMS can be used to automatically rebuild device drivers. I have a the following USB WiFi device:
Bus 003 Device 007: ID 0bda:b812 Realtek Semiconductor Corp. RTL88x2bu [AC1200 Techkey]
Which is not supported by the generic drivers. The drivers are rebuild bu DKMS whenever the kernel is upgraded.
For anyone interested in WiFi on a system that does not already have it my preferred solution is something based on the Intel AX200 chip, which is supported out of the box.
A good switch indeed! Apart from other good reasons, I like Fedora because it never asks for a donation, which, otherwise will be embarrassing. My HDD has Boot Virus (Ransom ware, Mouse loggers etc.). But I am managing with Fedora 32 installed afresh and with caution. I can only change the HDD to SSD after the corona scare is diminished.
“A good switch indeed! Apart from other good reasons, I like Fedora because it never asks for a donation, which, otherwise will be embarrassing.”
Many mainstream Linux distros don’t have the support of a big Corporation like Canonical or Red Hat (now part of IBM) and effectively rely completely on the support of the community. Also there are distros like Arch that never ask for donations through the downloads.
Each community handles their support differently and it’s not a case of being embarrassing or not and nothing to be ashamed of nor being shamed for.
Well posted. I switched to Fedora 20 years ago, when it was known as Core.
It has been my preferred distribution ever since, even though I look at others (I multi-boot on real hardware)..
Since around 2005, Fedora has never failed me. Neither have the people who support same and have the same “love” for the distribution.
You must have been a very early adopter, since Fedora Core 1 was only released in November 2003 😉 Red Hat 7 was released in September 2000.
Yes, I started with Red Hat 6 or 7. I am not sure which one it was. It was around that time. I think last Red Hat desktop was 9.
Yes same here. Started with Redhat all those years back. Seen a lot of distros since then
I love Fedora
unfortunately there are 1-2 unsolvable problems:
– mouse hangs every time OS starts (Corsair)
– sound card Sound Blaster Z max 48000 hz artificial stone fees
– sound disappears randomly (restart fedora)
– nvidia settings not saved (AllowGSYNC = on and AllowGSYNCCompatible = On)
Other common distro solved, these are not problems
try upgrading mouse firmware
killall pulseaudio should do the trick
I though I was the only one with occasional mouse problems (replug needed sometimes, ).
I get random runtime freezes/crashes on common programs such as gedit and libreoffice too. vim works fine however and maybe its due to my new hardware (R 7 3800X, RX 5700 XT).
Fedora ist typically one of the first to support new hardware out of the box, which is why its always an option for me.
Well, I’ve been using Fedora since about December last year, and I must admit I wasn’t expecting to have to learn Gnome – my last major Linux distro had been PCLinuxOS and I like KDE. Apart from that, I installed desktop switcher and lost copy/cut and paste, until I uninstalled it and a clipboard manager and go most of it back.
Paul W. Frields
Fedora also offers a fully functional KDE spin.
You also don’t have to install a spin and can just install the desktop environment through dnf group install or one of the other ways and switch on login. I think I have had all installed at one point or another to trouble shoot csgo performance issues. XFCE and LXDE seem to be the best for csgo.
I like Fedora a lot and it has been my main distribution for several years now (at least five).
I have started to diversify to other distributions on physical and virtual boxes in my stable for a small handful of reasons:
1) Diversity is good sometimes for solving problems.
2) Knowledge of other distributions is good for my personal IT goals.
3) I prefer some of my systems (more server-oriented and less desktop) to have an installation/distribution with a longer lifespan (long-term stable).
4) Fedora isn’t usually available (for now anyway) on the cloud platforms I am dabbling with.
Having said that, I like Fedora a lot, and am using it to compose this.
I’m a local news editor and publisher, and the main reason I switched to Fedora was that I do a lot of multimedia edting, and Design Suite has everything I need.
I’ve been using Linux distos since 1995, when I was a Unix sysadmin experimenting with various unix-like oses on PCs. A coworker and I can’t agree on whether we first installed SLS or Slackware, but it was a 50-disk process.
SInce then I’ve used (in addition to SLS and Slackware), Red Hat, Debian and its off-shoots, CentOS, and now Fedora.
Both Debian and Fedora are amazing and worth using. Thank you for keeping it libre/free!
LVM2 is a pain and DEB metapackages are better. Fedora has the best out of the box Gnome Desktop with Wayland experience though. Ubuntu should have stuck with Unity and Upstart. At least they still use AppArmor instead of SELinux.
Fedora growed up a lot since the .rpm era and become much more stable, elegant and user-friendly.
I’ve been using Fedora starting from when it became Fedora! One thing not mentioned and should be is the addition of a very important 3rd party repository: rpmfusion https://rpmfusion.org – per their site: “RPM Fusion provides software that the Fedora Project or Red Hat doesn’t want to ship. That software is provided as precompiled RPMs for all current Fedora versions and current Red Hat Enterprise Linux or clones versions; you can use the RPM Fusion repositories with tools like yum and PackageKit.” and of course dnf!
Nice article. Did you actually switched from Debian ?
I know Fedora for 5 years now, I used to use it at work. I have been using it again on my recent laptop and I was impressed, everything works like a charm (sound, wifi/bluetooth, thunderbolt), it is a real pleasure to use it.
So thank you all @Fedora !
Congratulations! I have been using Linux more or less exclusively for about 20 years now. In the beginning I tried many distributions, but in the end nothing was as good as Red Hat Desktop. And I continued when it was renamed to Fedora. Nowadays, everything is effortless, smooth, automatic, and works. I don’t have to do anything. It used to require a lot more effort. Back then I just found Fedora more logical. If something was wrong it was much easier to figure it out than with other distributions. And it was more reliable. During the big hype about Ubuntu and when Macbook Air came out, I really liked the hardware and bought it. Mac OS, however, I found simply horrible. After a week I decided to never boot that again and put Ubuntu on it. That didn’t go well. Nothing worked, problems all over the place. I replaced Ubuntu with Fedora. Everything worked after installation. Never again even considered anything else. Recently with a couple of kernel releases pulseaudio was
fuckedup on one of my machines. I had to tinker. It went away. It is a rare occurrence. I think RPM is better. I had to use Debian at work for a couple of years and I disliked apt/dpkg immensely. In general I didn’t like Debian. It was too fragile and and unpolished, rattling like a twenty year old car. I was pissed off at Fedora somewhat for awhile for pushing Gnome too much, which I didn’t like. I felt that for some time it was actually getting worse. In the beginning it was almost on par with KDE. I don’t know what it’s like now and have no intention of finding out. Still, Fedora was still better even though I had to manually switch a few things, remove some packages and add some after the installation or spend time un-selecting and selecting during installation. Now it is much easier. I have one machine on which I had installed Fedora 19, I think, it was in the teens, and I have been just upgrading ever since. And there are images with KDE. So, it’s just an idyllic bliss.
has already been installed which means that your system is broken (in such an event).
Is there a way to query an available but not yet installed package for changes?
For rpm you can query a not installed package with
to show details of the changes with time stamps. There are more options for querying, check out the man page for rpm.
Robin A. Meade
To view the changelog of a yet to be installed package, use dnf’s changelog plugin. For example:
The changelog plugin is included in the dnf-plugins-core package that is installed by default.
You can list the files of a yet to be installed package like this:
I do use Fedora for a long time. My favorite spin is Cinnamon Edition and also I am fan of Linux Mint just because of Cinnamon. Cinnamon in Fedora is very well updated and managed at least at the time of writing. Other tools I use is VIM which is very up-to-date and qemu-kvm virtualization where I run Fedora server, Fedora server with testing repos and Debian for many cli tasks and web-server.
Ashok Shankar Das
Welcome to the fascinating world of Fedora.
I switched to Fedora since F17 and I still love it. The most exciting thing for me is, to use my Laptop hardware much longer than with Windows. The second point is I love the open source philosophy. I also like the Gnome Desktop, because of its clear design and the very well usability, also on touch screens.
Nice article! Being a long time Fedora user, it is my daily driver, and is the distribution installed on all my home computers.
I would add one very useful rpm:
rpm -qf /path/to/file
to find out to which package a certain file belongs to.
Mr. Arnold, you’ve given us some great tips for switching but didn’t really answer the question posed in your title, other than a brief hint about “a variety of technical and political reasons.” What were those reasons? And what did you switch from?
I’ve been using Fedora as my main OS since version 18. Aside from the topic of what OS an unknown person uses. I am curious who you are “Mathew Arnold”. Are you 198 year old poet?
I’m just curious as to this whole “why I switched to Fedora” topics that pop up every so often. If you’re not a famous person, or somebody who has done something to earn a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize, or other such important things for humanity or nature, then why would anybody care if or why you switched to a specific anything, OS included.
Just so everyone knows I’m a 31 year old, Software Engineer/Writer from Upstate NY. I am also fun fact a legally blind power wheelchair user… Who has been using Open Source software to live life to it’s fullest since 2005. And I guess I contribute to Fedora now apparently. Should’ve put that in the article.
I have been using Fedora exclusively for the last three years. I love Fedora. It is a distribution that merges two characteristics hard to combine. It is stable and provides cutting-edge software.
The only critic is on the forum. When I have a problem with a distro, I always do my research to solve the problem, but if I cannot find the solution, I ask for help in the forum. More than once, I asked questions in which the responses not only didn’t provide any solution but also were rude or at least ironic. In these situations, I had to look for the answer in other forums or remain with unsolved doubts if it was a fedora-specific question. I used different distros and asked questions in forums belonging to both ends the user-friendliness spectrum from Mint to Gentoo, but I have seen this repeated level of disdain only in the Fedora forum; many times from old users.
Fedora might be the perfect distro, but it has its flows in the forum.
I do agree with you. Forum is corrupted. Google your problems for impeccable solutions.
Thanks for the article!
I found a little detail I’d like to correct:
The statement “rpm uses file-based dependency tracking instead of package-based dependency tracking” isn’t accurate. Rpm certainly supports file based dependencies, but that is in ADDITION to package based dependencies. As an example: the package ”bash” requires the PACKAGE “filesystem” (version 3 or later).
I would guess package dependencies are more common than file dependencies. The most common dependency must be the soname dependencies that rpmbuild automatically generates. When building a package with libraries in it, that package automatically provides the sonames of the libraries. Conversley, when building a package with binaries, that package automatically depends on all sonames those binaries are linked with.
Since a few of you mentioned not being too keen on Gnome, here’s what I did.
I installed Fedora Server edition, which is a much more minimal distribution. Then I simply added Xorg, Lightdm, and xmonad. If you do this, remember to run systemctl set-default graphical.target, since otherwise you won’t get a display manager running.
I am a 60 year old software developer. Unix (Linux) provides the best and lowest cost environment. I started with Redhat Linux, and then used Fedora. The reason I stayed with Fedora is that Redhat (and CentOS) are the only commercial linux distributions that get sufficient traction. Fedora leads Redhat Enterprise Linux, and knowledge is transferable. The only other viable choice for me would be CentOS, or RHEL.
The biggest problem with Fedora is that it moves perhaps too quickly. This was a problem in the early 2000’s with ATi graphics support.
Long time user since early Core release days, and Redhat before that (20+ years back) Tinkered a little bit with Debian and SUSE at work, but absolutely, i will stick with Fedora. Best distro ever, filling both professional and personal needs.
Thanks Fedora team for the amazing work!
Thank you for the article Matthew! I have been using Linux elusively for 4 years and just recently switched to Fedora.
rpm -qa // good command but slow…
rpm -qa –nodigest –nosignature // faster but not as fast as it could be…
is there anything short that just list the packages and does
nothing extra — IMO this is the most needed use case..?
My first Linux experiments began around 20 years ago with Lindows and PCLinuxOS. Ubuntu was a great step forward ‘out of the box’ but then I discovered Fedora 8 which was a much quicker install and a nice uncluttered, clean desktop.
I continued using all the later versions for years until a update broke my wifi and I couldn’t ‘Google-solve’ the problem so I thought I’d have a go at an Arch-based system such as Manjaro and Antergos (sadly now finished). The latter I used for a while very successfully.
Recently I found the time and patience to install base Arch itself and still run it. However I’ve since returned to check up on the latest Fedora and F32 is fantastic.
Nowadays Arch and Fedora are my ‘go to’ operating systems but Fedora wins hands down if one simply wants ease of installation in addition to performance and efficiency … and I suspect most of us generally do!
Furthermore, Fedora forums tend to be far less ‘elitist’ than their Arch counterparts where ‘newbies’ are invariably treated with disdain and contempt which I find very off-putting and self-defeating if one wishes to attract more people to the wonderful, diverse and exciting world of Linux?
I use Fedora for work, and it’s been my only Linux since RedHat days. But for everyday purposes it is too hard to configure so I use Windows 10. E.g., Firefox browser doesn’t come equipped able to show most videos on websites, and I can’t be bothered to figure out what codecs are missing, where I would get those, etc.
Fedora for me has been working most excellent….the first distribution of Linux in my 13 years in the Linux world I have used more than 1 month……(forget windows it is just too much of a headache and even a couple of hours worth is enough to be agitating and fills me with rage). I like Fedora’s well designed system of being able to use it as you want…add drivers like Nvidia…..add google chrome or other enhancements….and all gets taken care of under the roof of the fedora system…..including the different desktop environments….and all is perfectly handled and placed in their proper working order thru updates and version upgrades without having to go thru the system re-enabling third party sources….also the depth of multimedia quality in sound and video/graphics is outstanding and solid…and the flatpak programs working so well as part of the system….i started using it with the xfce spin then installed the cinnamon desktop which is what i use now….everyday works like a charm…no surprises or glitches and chugs along in fine fashion as an obedient system full of wonder and steady- built order.
I was long time user of Fedora (and Slackware before that) and see some things I do not like with it (list may be incomplete but that is what I remember):
– need to upgrade to next version (which can easily break) or do a fresh install regularly (once or twice a year)
– system updating modifying /boot/efi regularly (for example each time the kernel is updated). Fedora is not only one which do so. /boot/efi is not checked regularly and I noticed several times corruption there
Last tip was Fedora version upgrade writing multiple EFI boot entries until it was full. Fortunatelly the BIOS of that HP notebook has option to execute EFI file which I specify explicitly. Otherwise only way to run Linux would be from Windows 10 boot manager (adding Linux boot entries did not work any more).
So backup Your EFI BIOS settings while You can
So the result was me switching to Arch Linux and it does not seem that I’m going back anytime soon. Booth these problems are gone:
– rolling version (so no need to upgrade/reinstall twice a year)
– not writting to EFI boot partition unless I explictly tell to write (GRUB update could be a reason, but general rule “don’t fix if it not broken” often applies, kernel updates are handled in a different way)
Only time I had to do boot recovery was when Windows 10 update (dual boot) in Microsoft infinite visdom added one partition and rewrote GPT partition table as result GRUB did not find what to boot any more.
So for me there is no going back to Fedora anytime soon.