Author explores Fedora features, platform stability in new book

In this Q&A with the author of 'Introducing Fedora: Desktop Linux,' the basics of the distribution are covered, from Fedora features to installation and the package manager yum.

Brian Proffitt wrote Introducing Fedora: Desktop Linux with the Fedora beginner in mind, which isn't to say that it doesn't tackle complex Fedora areas such as virtualization and the command-line package manager yum. Whether you need help installing Fedora, are curious about certain Fedora features or are already a pro, the book is an excellent source for potential and current Fedora users in the home or business. Its close ties to Red Hat Enterprise Linux make it an especially great business option.

You can preview an excerpt from Chapter 3, courtesy of Cengage Learning, which covers installation of Fedora. recently spoke with Brian Proffitt about some of the issues covered in his book and Fedora in general.

In addition to writing this book, you were the Community Manager of the Linux Foundation. Can you describe what went into that role and how this book fits in with the foundation's goal of promoting and advancing Linux?
I'm no longer with the Linux Foundation and in fact took up this book after leaving that organization. Being with the foundation was a great opportunity for me because being able to work on the inside and actively promote Linux is a personal goal of mine. That's pretty much why I tend to write Linux books; beyond my overarching desire to teach people about computers, I want them to have knowledge about a really great operating system.

Chapter 2 goes into preparation for a Fedora installation. You mention that while Fedora is a "very robust operating system," even it may have hardware support gaps on occasion. Can you describe the most common hardware gap(s) found recently with Fedora 13, and if there are user fixes or if the Fedora Project is currently working on support?
I can't directly speak for the Fedora Project, but some of the problems I have seen regarding hardware support typically fall in the area of WiFi card support. The recent decision by Broadcom to release Linux-capable drivers, finally, should greatly alleviate that headache for Fedora and all the other distributions.

Can you tell us three Fedora features that you think set it apart from the other open source options out there?
For me, Fedora represents stability in the Linux community. That never sounds sexy, but that's my perception. Ubuntu is pretty and cutting-edge, and openSUSE is stable too, though more on the KDE side, but Fedora puts together the best GNOME-based distro using the most stable packages. Their close ties to Red Hat Enterprise Linux also make it a great developer platform for anyone making apps for the enterprise or consumer platforms.

In Chapter 6, you detail the Software Update and PackageKit, which update and download new software via a GUI. Yum is another option that uses the command line. Do you find that, with the pervasive use of the point-and-click nature of the GUI, yum isn't being used even though it is "a very powerful manager?"
I like yum, and use it almost exclusively. But this book was really aimed towards beginners, and command-line interaction isn't always the best way to introduce new users to Linux. In fact, FUD-mongers tend to point at CLI as a negative for Linux, which is stupid. Still, there is truth in the adage you've got to walk before you can boogie.

Out of curiosity, what OS are you running on your office computer?
More like what I'm not running. Let's see, I have an Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook remix netbook, a desktop running Fedora 13, a laptop with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS that has Fedora 14 and Ubuntu 10.10 virtual machines for exploring new stuff. Oh, and a Windows 7 laptop a friend lent me to work on another project. What can I say -- I like to play in different environments.

You discuss virtualization in the book. Red Hat's commercial offering, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), has embraced KVM and phased out Xen support. Is KVM also the optimal choice for Fedora?
I'd say yes if you were serious about virtualization adoption. Most Fedora users may not need that kind of VM management. For them, a more basic solution -- I like Virtualbox OSE -- might be a better fit. Of course, Oracle's being ridiculous right now, so we may have to look for something else.

With Red Hat already having a formidable presence in the business space with RHEL, what are the main business reasons, other than cost, you could make for Fedora as an alternative option?
For businesses, Fedora is an excellent platform for end users because it is stable and can be managed to a very fine point. Plus, it offers developers an excellent platform to build apps for desktops and for RHEL servers.

The provided excerpt is from, and this Q&A is based on, Introducing Fedora: Desktop Linux, authored by Brian Proffitt, published by Cengage Learning, June 2010, ISBN 1435457781, Copyright 2011 Course Technology. The book is available online for purchase and via other outlets.

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