Fedora 19 is available for 32- and 64-bit x86 systems, as well as 32-bit ARM SoCs, which means that Fedora's ARM port has been released at the same time as the version for x86 CPUs for the first time ever. Fedora 19 variants for 64-bit power processors (PPC) and s390x are being worked on at the moment and should be released soon. Fedora categorises the three variants for non-x86 systems as secondary architectures so that they don't slow down work on the two x86 versions, but the distribution's ARM developers are working on achieving the same status for their port as the x86 versions. They are also preparing to bring support to the 64-bit ARM execution state AArch64, for which they hope to publish a specifically designed variant of Fedora 20.
Now that Fedora 19 is complete, work on version 20 has already started, although it does not yet have a name or an expected release date. The initial schedule currently suggests a release in mid-November, which would be roughly in keeping with the Fedora Project's typical cycle.
The new Fedora does not have any major changes, much less any revolutionary ones, but the small and medium-sized changes certainly add up, including better support for new Radeon graphics cores, a spate of new systemd features and the move to MariaDB. An updated and very comprehensive collection of software makes Fedora one of the most cutting-edge distributions at the moment.
The Fedora Project maintains several download pages for the distribution. The main download page limits itself to the standard edition – the desktop spin for 64-bit x86 systems (x86-64/x64), which comes with the GNOME desktop and can be installed onto a CD or USB drive. The 32-bit x86 (x86/x86-32) system edition is available from a second download page, which also includes links for downloading the most popular spins, including spins with KDE, Xfce or LXDE as the default desktop.
A further download page lists DVD and USB drive images for creating installation media. These do not allow users to try them before installing, but do allow the selection of software users want to install. This installation takes longer to set up the system. Network installation requires the use of these images. The 1MB gXPE image even allows the installation environment itself to be booted from a network. Only these images allow the semi-automated installation of the distribution with Kickstart files.
Images targeted for use in the cloud are listed on the project wiki. Fedora also has further spins, featuring collections of software aimed at specific target groups, available from the spins subdomain. These include the previously standalone Sugar on a Stick (SoaS), the DVD-oriented Games spin, and the Security Lab spin, containing primarily system rescue, forensic system analysis and security auditing software. These spins allow use as a live environment, similar to the GNOME, KDE SC and Xfce variants.
Fedora's ISO files are hybrid images that can be written to USB memory sticks using the "dd" command-line tool, allowing the user to boot the distribution from the stick. Alternatively, users can transfer the ISO images to USB devices with the liveusb-creator tool, which is available for Linux and Windows. This also allows the use of free space on the device to create an overlay file that the spin mounts for persistent data storage.
The different variants of Fedora are created with packages from the distribution's repository, which is used as a central pool of installable packages for all of them. The repository for the x86-64 version includes over 35,000 binary packages that have been created from around 13,000 source packages.
By using fedup, which was introduced in Fedora 18, users can upgrade to the latest release ; an update through the installation DVD is not possible any more. Similar to the "apt-get update" command on Debian system, yum can be used to upgrade a Fedora installation on the go. However this is not officially supported and needs advanced knowledge.
Focused on open source software
With the exception of a few firmware files, Fedora only contains software available under open source licences recognised by the Fedora Project. Licences which forbid commercial use of the software or redistribution to others do not make it onto this list. The Fedora project also excludes software which uses technologies known to be patented. This approach is a conscious choice, made with the aim of creating an open source operating system which guarantees that users wanting to use or distribute it will not be subject to copyright or patent claims.
It does mean that Fedora is missing some day-to-day features important to many Linux users. These include Adobe Flash Player and proprietary AMD and NVIDIA graphics drivers. It also lacks software for playing many common audio and video formats, including support for playing MP3s, intellectual property rights relating to which have been have repeatedly asserted by the patent holders.
On a laptop or desktop, therefore, Fedora is only really ready for action once package repositories for installing much of the software excluded by the Fedora Project have been activated. The best-known and most used Fedora repositories are the "free" and "nonfree" repositories from RPM Fusion, which can be activated post-installation in just a few simple steps. If a Gstreamer-based application needs a codec not included with Fedora, PackageKit will ask you to confirm and then, if available, install it automatically from an RPM Fusion repository. A how-to explaining how to install NVIDIA's proprietary graphics drivers is also available.
RPM Fusion provides access to many popular applications and drivers ignored by Fedora, but by no means all. It does not, for example include Adobe Reader or the Adobe Flash plugin, as this is forbidden under licensing conditions for the two programs. Adobe does, however, maintain its own package repository which can be used from Fedora. Google also maintains Fedora-compatible repositories for its software.