Fedora Project Announces Pidora Remix for Raspberry Pi

The Fedora Project has been supporting Raspberry Pi, the diminutive $35 computer, for some time. Today they’re making the Pidora “remix” of the core Fedora distribution available. Like the Raspbian distribution of Debian, Pidora is compiled specifically to take advantage of the hardware already built into the Raspberry Pi.

Pidora offers a couple of interesting little additions to your standard Fedora desktop experience. The reduced oomph of the RPi means that the full-blown GNOME desktop is replaced with the lighter-weight XFCE. Pidora also offers an easy-to-use headless mode for folks running without a monitor. If you attach speakers to your RPi, it’ll helpfully say out loud what it’s IP address is. Clever trick.

The Pidora build was performed at Seneca’s Centre for Development of Open Technology, where they’ve been working with Fedora ARMv5tel/armv7hl build farms for the last couple of years. That experience was directly responsible for Pidora, since the RPi uses the ARMv6 architecture with a dedicated FPU, which is not strictly part of the ARMv6 spec.

According to CDOT’s Chris Tyler, there were three main challenges to getting Pidora out the door:

  1. Ordering the build — sequencing the initial build of over 10K source packages that have complex and sometimes circular dependency chains can be challenging.
  2. ARMv6-specific issues — armv5 and armv7 are the most common targets for ARM builds. Some packages make incorrect assumption or are missing code for armv6.
  3. Native building — Fedora has a native-build philosophy, which requires that package builds be performed on a system capable of executing the compiled code.

Tyler shared some additional details of why Pidora is an interesting option for Raspberry Pi owners:

Pidora contains a number of Raspberry Pi-specific Python modules and native libraries, such as WiringPi, bcm2835, and python-rpi.gpio. The kernel is also compiled to expose the Raspberry Pi interfaces such as I2C, SPI, serial, and GPIO, and several of these can be accessed with /sys file interfaces (even from bash) without using any special libraries or modules. In addition, Pidora contains Raspberry Pi-specific utilities and libraries for access to the Broadcom Videocore IV GPU.

I’ve only just recently acquired an RPi, and last night I installed Pidora onto an SD card. I was off to the races with no trouble at all.

The Fedora folks have a long history of giving out USB sticks with Fedora pre-loaded. I suspect we’ll soon start seeing SD cards pre-loaded with Pidora being handed out at conferences and events.