In 2007, Fedora, Red Hat's community Linux distribution, hit an all-time low. Users were leaving it behind in favor of Ubuntu and openSUSE. Well-known Linux evangelist Eric S. Raymond, after looking at the latest release, Fedora Core 6, dismissed Fedora as junk.
Raymond wrote at the time, "Over the last five years, I've watched Red Hat/Fedora throw away what a near-unassailable lead was at one time in technical prowess, market share and community prestige. The blunders have been legion on both technical and political levels."
Two years later though, Paul Frields, Fedora project leader, declared that there has been "a major up-tick in Fedora involvement over the last 6 months. Since the release of Fedora 10, we've seen about 1 million new installations and approximately 2 million unique visitors to fedoraproject.org each month. We are very pleased about the number of contributors and interest that we are seeing in the Fedora Project, and we intend to build on that enthusiasm at FUDCon (Fedora Users and Developers Conference) Berlin." FUDCon is an annual community event, which will be held this year between June 26-28th in conjunction with LinuxTag, Europe's leading Linux and open-source gathering and tradeshow.
Frields isn't talking out of his hat. While Linux desktop numbers are very hard to fix down properly, a close look at DistroWatch's Linux distribution page hit numbers shows that Fedora has been moving up and it's holding its own again as a popular Linux distribution.
As far as I can tell, Fedora's developers, underneath Red Hat's direction, have restrengthened their efforts to produce a first-class Linux distribution.
I know personally, I've been very impressed by Fedora 10. This edition of Fedora is the first one in years to have won a long-term place on my Linux desktop line-up in my office/lab. While I have over two-dozen computers that I use for evaluations, that still isn't enough. So I only keep operating systems around that I think are either truly useful or matter to many users. Fedora makes it on both accounts.
I suspect too that Red Hat, which is re-entering the Linux desktop market, has been working hard to improve Fedora as a desktop system for the last few months. From where I sit, it's certainly Red Hat's best desktop in years.
Will Fedora become more popular than Ubuntu? I don't see that happening. Well, not any time soon. But, what I do see is that several Linux distributions and Fedora is one of them, have really stepped up their game. All the desktop Linuxes are getting better, and that can only be good news no matter, which distribution is your favorite.