Mike Mcgrath started an important topic on fedora-adivsory-board-list here and one that I have been thinking about for a long time… “Who is our Target Audience?” Some of the follow ups are thought provoking and honest–in particular, Bill Nottingham here. I think the question of target audience is important to consider in light of comparisons to Ubuntu.

It is not unusual to see people comparing Fedora to Ubuntu or pointing out how Ubuntu is gaining “mind share”, more hits on google, etc. I question the validity of these comparison. Sure, any two or more things can be compared and one can garner more attention than another, but that doesn’t mean one is better unless you have common criteria.

It is like comparing a Toyota 4×4 truck to a Prius. If what you value is gas mileage, the comparison is easy… the Prius wins. But if what you value is hauling gravel, it is silly to say that the Prius is losing “mind share” in the gravel hauling category.

Is simply comparing Fedora to Ubuntu a valid comparison in the Linux distro category? It depends.

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What is the process by which the distro is created?
  • How open is the development process to anyone?
  • What purpose is the distro created for?
  • Which distro is easier to use and by what kind of users?
  • How closely does the distro track upstream projects?
  • How many and what kind of projects is the distro upstream for?
  • Is commercial support provided?

Disclaimer: I am not attempting to underhandedly imply that one distro is better or worse in the aforementioned categories; simply that they are worth considering and comparing.

Many people compare Ubuntu and Fedora in terms of “ease of use”. I think this is a valid category for comparison, but it is only one aspect. Are you looking to haul something heavy, get good gas mileage, be easy to use, serve as a cutting edge development platform, or _____ ? A friend of mine is fond of saying, “Life is a series of tradeoffs”–so is chosing and creating a distribution and why it is important to be clear about what categories you are striving to be the best at (target audience).