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Revision as of 19:29, 8 January 2010
Fedora users and contributors frequently ask others in the community why certain items are not included in Fedora. This page is meant to provide some explanations for the most frequently requested exclusions.
- If it is proprietary, it cannot be included in Fedora.
- If it is legally encumbered, it cannot be included in Fedora.
- If it violates United States laws (specifically, Federal or applicable state laws), it cannot be included in Fedora.
The Fedora Project FAQ and the more informal, unofficial  provide useful answers on commonly asked questions. However, the unofficial site is not associated with or supported by the Fedora Project. You can find many interesting things using a search engine like Google. Third party repositories might contain software that has been not been included in the official Fedora software repository.
The proprietary software and drivers discussed may be available from the respective owners and other vendors. Fedora Project instead highly recommends that you support the right vendors and get hardware that can work with completely free and open source software and not restricted by Software Patents and other legal encumbrances.
There are several areas in which more community participation can significantly enhance Fedora. Refer to the Join page for potential contributions and Fedora Wishlist for some examples. If you are interested in maintaining other software packages in Fedora see the PackageMaintainers page.
Current Legal Issues
There are several items under discussion on the Legal Issues page that may be added to or removed from this page when a final decision is reached.
MP3 encoding and decoding support is not included in any Fedora application because MP3 is heavily patented in several regions including the United States. The patent holder is unwilling to give an unrestricted patent grant, as required by the GPL. Other platforms might have paid the royalty and/or included proprietary software. Other Linux distributions not based in a region affected by the patent might ship MP3 decoders/encoders or they might have included proprietary software. However, Fedora cannot and does not include MP3 decoders/encoders in order to serve the goal of providing and supporting only free and open source software that is not restricted by software patents by default.
Fedora Suggests: If possible, use patent unrestricted formats such as Ogg Vorbis (a lossy audio codec that has better quality than MP3), or FLAC (a lossless audio codec).
Proprietary Kernel Drivers
Proprietary drivers are not included in Fedora. They are considered harmful by many kernel developers.
Many kernel developers consider such drivers as violation of the GPL license of the kernel. Fedora does not include proprietary software.
NVIDIA Accelerated Graphics Drivers
The NVIDIA graphics drivers are proprietary, and many kernel developers consider this driver to violate the GPL license of the kernel. Fedora does not include proprietary software.
Fedora Suggests: Consider using a graphics adapter from Intel or any other manufacturer that provides full specifications or source code. Note that NVIDIA adapters will usually work well using the drivers included with Fedora, but accelerated functions (OpenGL) will not be available.
ATI Accelerated Graphics Drivers
The ATI graphics drivers are proprietary and many kernel developers consider this driver to violate the GPL license of the kernel. Fedora does not include proprietary software.
NDISwrapper network driver
NDISwrapper works by bridging Windows drivers into kernel space; many kernel developers consider this to violate the GPL license of the kernel. Furthermore, NDISwrapper does not work with standard kernel features, such as 4K stacks, and exposes the user to binary-only drivers in kernel space that the user cannot modify or fix. Furthermore, NDISwrapper does not work at all without the Windows drivers, which 1) are not redistributable, and therefore cannot be shipped in Fedora, and 2) are not open source, and therefore will not be shipped in Fedora.
Fedora Suggests: Try using the in-kernel drivers that support many common wireless cards, such as Intel or Broadcom wireless adapters.
Real Media (and Player)
Real Media encoding and decoding support is not included in any Fedora application because it is heavily patented in several regions including the United States. The patent holder is unwilling to give an unrestricted patent grant, as required by the GPL. Other platforms might have paid the royalty, or included proprietary software. Other Linux distributions not based in a region affected by the patent might ship Real Media decoders and encoders. However, Fedora cannot and does not ship Real Media decoders and encoders in order to serve the goal of providing and supporting only free and open source software by default.
Fedora Suggests: Try using patent unrestricted formats such as Ogg Vorbis (a lossy audio codec), Ogg Theora (a lossy video codec), or FLAC (a lossless audio codec)
DVD playback (of CSS encrypted DVDs) may be a violation of the United States DMCA , because it may be considered circumventing a copyright protection mechanism. Additionally, MPEG2 is a patented codec, so even DVDs without encryption cannot be played.
Fedora Suggests: Using patent unrestricted formats such as Ogg Theora is highly recommended when encoding videos.
Some cryptographic packages are not included within Fedora due to US export restrictions and patent concerns.
Fedora Suggests: Consider using non-restricted cryptographic methods instead.
Sun's Java is now under a free software license but still has some binary encumbrances which are being removed or replaced incrementally. Red Hat is working with Sun to improve free and open source Java. Fedora 9 includes OpenJDK from Sun with encumbered portions replaced by the IcedTea Project and Fedora 8 includes IcedTea too. Also Fedora includes and actively develops GCJ which can be used to run many Java programs and supports a different set of features and architectures. See the JavaFAQ for more details.
VMware is proprietary software. Fedora does not include proprietary software. Fedora includes and develops several virtualization technologies which may provide an alternative.
Adobe/Macromedia Flash Player
Adobe Flash Player is proprietary software. Fedora does not include proprietary software. There are open source alternatives including Swfdec and Gnash; both are available in Fedora's package repositories. If you still need to install Adobe Flash, we have Flash installation instructions.
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Adobe Acrobat Reader is proprietary software. Fedora does not include proprietary software.
Fedora Suggests: Consider using open source alternatives instead. Alternative PDF (Acrobat file format) readers are provided for the GNOME desktop (
evince, developed and maintained by Fedora developers), the KDE 4 desktop (
okular), the KDE 3 desktop (
kpdf), and for generic X-Window graphical interfaces (
The szip license is too restrictive for inclusion in Fedora.
Fedora Suggests: Use other open source alternatives such as gzip, bzip2 and lzma formats.
There are serious concerns about Moonlight, due to Microsoft and Novell's public statements around its inclusion in their "covenant". In addition to that Groklaw has posted a FAQ from Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) on the issues with this patent "covenant". Accordingly, this technology (with, or without codecs), is considered too risky, and is not acceptable for inclusion in Fedora.
Microsoft later extended the patent "covenant" in a limited form to end users but not for redistribution and hence distributions other than Novell are still excluded.
The TrueCrypt software is under a poor license, which is not only non-free, but has the potential to be actively dangerous to end users or distributors who agree to it, opening them to possible legal action even if they abide by all of the licensing terms, depending on the intent of the upstream copyright holder. Fedora continues to make efforts to try to work with the TrueCrypt upstream to fix all of the issues in their license so that it can be considered Free, but have not yet been successful.
Fedora Suggests: Avoid this software entirely.