Request for a detailed breakdown of the relationship between Fedora and Red Hat

I’ve been a long-time fan of Fedora and the surrounding community, however with the recent debacle caused by RHEL pushing their code behind an additional agreement, I wanted to check the dependence of the Fedora Project on Red Hat.

So I have read the wiki article but I feel like it doesn’t quite cover everything I was after.

  • Red Hat appear to own the Fedora trademark, does that mean Red Hat actually owns Fedora?
  • Is Fedora independent enough to overrule any Red Hat decisions, should the community decide to?
  • Ultimately, is Fedora for the users or for RH? Who has the real control?

I felt asking here would allow other people to benefit from answers through search engine discovery.

Thanks for your time guys


DISCLAIMER: I am not talking for Fedora or Red Hat, I am merely a community member, so the following might not be 100% correct.

Red Hat owns the Fedora trademark. And a lot of the infrastructure. That doesn’t mean the entire distribution is owned by Red Hat. As merely a community member, I would say Fedora is independent enough from Red Hat to come up with its own decisions, completely outside of Red Hat’s control.

Does Fedora has Red Hat employees? Yes. That does not mean the employees do as Red Hat intends. Red Hat employees have to sign up an agreement that allows them to work on Fedora independently from Red Hat (and even allows them to make decisions that would not be very beneficial to Red Hat)

I would say Fedora is ultimately for the users, seeing that most contributors are Fedora users and community members like you and me.

Fedora is quite the Operating System, it has the power of an independent community and developers that listen to its users (the recent telemetry discussion is a very transparent way to receive feedback) while also leveraging from a large corporation, having full-time paid employees working on it.

I hope this clarifies some (hopefully all) of your concerns.


To provide concrete examples: Btrfs became the default filesystem in Fedora, going in the opposite direction of RHEL where the technical preview was removed.

Also, frame pointers are enabled by default in Fedora 38, despite opposition from a Red Hat team. The Red Hat employees with seats in FESCo judged the change proposal on merit instead of blindly siding with their colleagues


I found this blog interesting on the background to all this, highlighted by

It is a long read, skip to the end for insights to current events.


Thank you all for your replies. I have found all of this both useful and reassuring. I appreciate you all taking the time to pass this on.

And I’m looking forward to getting more involved with the Fedora project going forward, as I feel like this all aligns fairly well with my views.


Yes, in a legal sense, Red Hat owns most of the infrastructure, the trademarks, and signing keys, etc. Nevertheless, most of what happens in Fedora happens because people volunteer their time (both Red Hat employees and contributors), and there is no control over that, it depends mostly on the good will and engagement of volunteers.

Fedora can and does make independent technical choices. Some examples were mentioned upthread. Nevertheless, Fedora is not independent. In particular, Fedora is not allowed to create legal jeopardy for Red Hat, so it is very strict on USA copyright, patent laws, export controls, etc. Red Hat funds Fedora because it is useful for the company by driving the development of the Linux ecosystem and technologies that will form the basis of subsequent versions of its enterprise offerings. If Fedora were to go in a completely crazy direction, it’s likely that Red Hat would stop seeing this benefit and pull its involvement. It would be very hard for the community to keep Fedora working without that support. So Fedora’s independence certainly has limits.

Nobody has full control. The Fedora Project Leader can try to convince contributors, but has no power to direct work. Red Hat lawyers set some strict limits based on relevant laws, but that just sets some boundaries. Contributors decide what they want to work on and when. Various committees like FESCo and FPC “govern” by consensus and voluntary conformance. Red Hat employees working on Fedora to a large extent do this on their own, so their contributions are not controlled by anyone. Some people are paid to work on infrastructure, but there is more to do do than the resources permit, so they make some semi-independent decisions what services to keep working. I would say that this is all rather complicated, and getting things done is mostly possible when there’s general support for something, and that is how it should be.

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