A few weeks ago, I made a YouTube video on risiOS and a lot of people were surprised that it was Fedora based, because most distros are based on either Debian, Ubuntu, or Arch. Well, there are quite a few other distributions based on Fedora, so let’s go through some of them, specifically the ones mentioned on Fedora’s list of Fedora remixes wiki page.
Let’s start with risiOS. Full disclosure, the author of this article is the lead developer of risiOS. This is a Fedora based distro with a welcome screen to easily set up RPMFusion, Flathub, and NVIDIA drivers among other things. It also has some unique features like risi-script which generates GUI wizards for bash scripts, and a store for web apps. There is currently a full video on the TechHut YouTube channel about this if you are interested, so we recommend checking that out.
Nobara is a distribution that is designed specifically for gaming. It is made by a Red Hat Engineer who is also the maintainer of Proton-GE contributor and a developer of Lutris. Booting into it, its flagship version has a customized version of GNOME, although there is also a vanilla GNOME Version. Some of the extensions the non-Vanilla version installs include ArcMenu, Blur my Shell, and Dash to Panel. This gives it an overall setup similar to Windows 7. It also comes preinstalled with a lot of gaming related tools including Steam, Lutris, Wine, ProtonUp and GOverley.
Nobara also comes with countless patches to different things in the system to make the computer faster, including 11 patches to the kernel just listed on the website, as well as patches to glibc to fix broken apps, a version of mesa built from git to provide newer AMD/Intel drivers, some patches to GNOME such as variable refresh rate and GNOME Extension auto updating, automatic driver installation on NVIDIA, RPMFusion & Flathub and many more features. So, if you are into gaming or need to push your hardware to the max, Nobara is going to be a very good option for all of its patches. These aren’t just things you can set up on a Fedora installation because of the extra patches to things like the kernel and glibc.
Next up is Ultramarine Linux. This is super heavy in development right now, and there are a lot of planned features that haven’t been finished yet so far. According to their website, it is meant to be a spiritual successor to Korora Linux. This distribution ships 3 different desktops including GNOME, Budgie, and Pantheon, and they have a variant called Lapis which is built around OSTree similar to Fedora Silverblue. It also tries to streamline the developer experience with tools like umpkg for packaging.
Booting into the flagship Budgie edition, the first thing I notice is how beautiful the distro is, thanks to the Fluent GTK and icon themes. It comes preinstalled with Budgie stuff like the Budgie Control Center, Budgie Desktop Settings, and some extra utilities to extend Budgie such as Window Shuffler, WallStreet, and QuickChar. On top of that Ultramarine preinstalls things like RPMFusion, Flathub and its own dedicated repo that contains the Budgie desktop among other things. Overall, it’s a great distro if you want something with things like RPMFusion preinstalled and don’t want to set up that stuff yourself, and it’s also your only option if you want a good Pantheon or Budgie experience on a Fedora based system.
Qubes, is a very interesting distro. This is a distro built specifically for maximum security and privacy and is even loved by people like Edward Snowden and the founder of Etherium. This is based on an older version of Fedora, in fact it’s based on Fedora 32 which means out of the box you cannot install packages on the main system due to Fedora 32’s repository being down by now, unless you setup mirrors for older versions of Fedora yourself. However, you aren’t supposed to install stuff into the main system, this is a Virtual Machine based environment where everything you run is through a VM of a different operating system.
When you boot up you get a very light Xfce environment, and the only preinstalled applications on the system are a terminal, Xfce settings, and Qubes tools. You also have several preinstalled Virtual machines including a personal one which is likely where you would want to install most of your software, and disposable ones, and different OSes for each VM including Fedora 36, Debian 11, and Whonix for TOR stuff. They also have disposable VMs that automatically wipe themselves when you are done with them. This is a very interesting distribution, so if you are interested, I recommend to research this yourself because this is a very complicated distribution.
Montana Linux and FX64
Now we have the main ones out of the way, let’s just give a mention of a few other ones. Let’s start with Montana Linux. This is a distro that has versions based on Fedora, Alma Linux, and older versions of CentOS. I booted into the Cinnamon version of it, and it just looks like Fedora Cinnamon. In fact, reading over the kickstart files which is what Fedora based distros use to build, the only changes I can find is that RPMFusion is preinstalled, a couple of extra media applications are installed. That’s it, there aren’t even special wallpapers and Fedora branding is still there. So, you are probably better off just using normal Fedora and installing RPMFusion, or running another one of these distros.
A similar distro is FX64, which is another Fedora based distro with the Cinnamon desktop. But like Montana Linux it still uses Fedora branding and wallpapers. FX64’s website literally just says, “FX64 Linux is a Fedora 36 based distro. Google Chrome, Java IcedTea, Skype & RAR preinstalled.”. Just install these yourself on Fedora…
Berry Linux is a distro from Japan that is made to be ran off a USB or CD, although it is theoretically installable to an internal drive too, but I couldn’t get the installer to function properly. It comes with a very minimal LXDE desktop by default and comes with only a few lightweight essentials preinstalled by default. This does have potential to be great, but there’s a lot of issues involving essential things just not working properly. For example, installing a package with dnf requires you to specify the Fedora release version, which breaks package management, and as mentioned later its installer didn’t work for me. But it is impressive because of how little resource usage it uses, and it even has its own display manager called BerryDM.
Network Security Toolkit
Network Security Toolkit is a distro that can be used as both a server and a graphical system. When used as a graphical system, it uses the MATE desktop environment and comes with a boatload of preinstalled network and security tools, including tools like Wireshark and “Angry IP Scanner”. It also has a built-in web interface that you can use to manage the system including things like running a virus scan. There are several functions in the web interface that are broken out of the box, but that could also be because I didn’t set this up properly because I just opened the web interface and started playing around.
Finally, our last distro is Kedora. A “Secure, Fast and Simple Distro, made for IT Sstudents”. It uses Plasma out of the box, but the only difference for the user interface is that it uses Windows 11 icons and the Windows 11 background by default. I noticed when installing something that for some reason it preinstalls repos for both TeamViewer and Brave Browser’s despite both of those not being installed by default. It also comes with Google Chrome as the default browser, as well as gdfuse for native Google drive integration. Like most of the other distros it also comes with RPMFusion, but this distro hasn’t updated to a Fedora 36 base yet and is still based on Fedora 35. So, I’d pass on this one considering its mimicking Windows, preinstalls Chrome and random repos, and this is another one where you could just install Fedora with RPMFusion instead.
Official Fedora Spins
Speaking of Fedora Plasma, if you are looking for a good Fedora based distro that isn’t just stock Fedora, check out the official Fedora spins. These are stock Fedora, but they come with a different desktop of choice. Currently there are separate spins for Plasma, XFCE, LXQt, MATE, Cinnamon, LXDE, Sugar, and I3. Also, if you are looking for a more specialized Fedora based distro, check out Fedora Labs. These provide special versions of Fedora with different sets of preinstalled applications depending on the use case. These include Astronomy, Comp Neuro, Design Suite, Games, Jam, Python Classroom, Security Lab. Robotics Suite and Scientific. So, if you are in one of those fields, check out those Fedora Lab Spins, or another Fedora Spin for a more preferred DE if you aren’t a GNOME fan.
Another spin worth mentioning is another official spin, and that is Fedora Silverblue. This is a version of Fedora based around OSTree which means you have an image based read-only file system. This is similar to how operating systems like iOS and Chrome OS work. The image-based system allows people to do things like try development images and then revert back to a stable image, rollback broken updates, and it removes many of the “it works on my system” type bugs that may occur on a normal Linux system. Apps are also fully installed through Flatpaks and containers which is how the file system can be read only. This is a really interesting distro, and this full overview doesn’t do it full justice, so we recommend doing more research about it if you are interested.