Setting Up Fedora Workstation for Software Development

Posted in administration programming with tags administration linux fedora golang javascript python rust -


This is a set of notes for setting up an installation of the Fedora Workstation Linux distribution on your PC, specifically for systems administration and Web development.


Enable Disk Encryption

Enable disk encryption when prompted during the setup process.

Disk encryption is the only protection against anyone with physical access to your computer. All other security measures will be completely bypassed if someone with physical access either restarts your computer with a bootable pen drive, or removes the internal hard drive and attaches it to another computer.

Set a Password for UEFI or BIOS

Once you have installed Fedora, restart your computer, and press the function key to enter the setup menu for the UEFI firmware, or BIOS. Change the boot options so that the computer only boots from the hard drive, and set both a user password for startup, and an administrator password to protect the firmware menus.

Do This First!

Log in once, run the GNOME Software utility, and ensure that the operating system has the latest updates. After all of the updates have been applied, restart the computer.

User Settings

Select Settings > Privacy, and review the settings. Depending upon your needs, you may decide to turn off Location Services or Usage & History.

Setting Up for Development

Every developer needs a text editor and a version control system. Fedora Workstation includes the Git version control system, but you will want to install the text editor or IDE of your choice.

Fedora Workstation also includes the GCC compiler and toolchain, so that you can compile C programs and native extensions for languages like Python and JavaScript.

Text Editors

Fedora includes a small command-line version of vim with a limited set of features, as well as a desktop text editor with basic support for programming. The package repositories include other editors and IDEs.

You will massively improve your experience with your text editor by adding a useful set of extensions to it. The exact extensions that will benefit the most you depend upon the work that you do, but you should always look at version control integration, convenient access to the terminal, and linters for your preferred programming languages and data file formats.

Setting The EDITOR Environment Variable

Whichever text editor you choose, remember to set the EDITOR environment variable in your ~/.bashrc file, so that this editor is automatically invoked by command-line tools like your version control system. For example, put this line in your profile to make nano the favored text editor:

export EDITOR="nano"

Configuring Git

Always set your details before you create or clone repositories on a new system. This requires two commands in a terminal window:

git config --global "Your Name"
git config --global ""

The global option means that the setting will apply to every repository that you work with in the current user account.

To enable colors in the output, which can be very helpful, enter this command:

git config --global color.ui auto

Setting Up A Directory Structure for Projects

To keep your projects tidy, I would recommend following the Go developer conventions. These guidelines may seem slightly fussy, but they pay off when you have many projects, some of which are on different version control hosts.

First create a top-level directory with a short, generic name like code. By default Go uses a directory called go, but you can change that when you set up a Go installation.

Once you set the top-level directory as the environment variable GOPATH, Go will compile to the bin, doc and pkg subdirectories. You can add the bin directory to your PATH to be able to run the compiled programs by typing their names. You may or may not choose to use these directories with other programming environments.

In this directory, create an src sub-directory. For each repository host, create a subdirectory in src that matches your username. Check out projects in the directory. The final directory structure looks like this:


Creating SSH Keys

You will frequently use SSH to access Git repositories or remote UNIX systems. Fedora includes the standard OpenSSH suite of tools.

To create an SSH key, run the ssh-keygen command in a terminal window. For example:

ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C "Me MyName (MyDevice) <>"

Use 4096-bit RSA keys for all systems. The older DSA standard only supports 1024-bit keys, which are now too small to be considered secure.

Setting Up Environments

nvm for Node.js Development

To install versions of Node.js on your system, use the nvm utility.

Enter this command to install nvm:

 curl -o- | bash

Open a new terminal window and enter this command:

nvm install --lts

This installs the latest LTS release of Node.js, and makes it the default Node.js run-time.

To upgrade the copy of npm that is provided with Node.js, run this command in a terminal window:

npm -g upgrade npm

Developer Tools for Go

Use the dnf tool to install Go:

sudo dnf install golang

By default, current versions of Go automatically create and use a go directory in your home directory as the GOPATH. To ensure that third-party tools and terminal auto-completion features work, you should still explicitly set the environment variables.

Set a GOPATH environment variable in your ~/.bashrc file:

export GOPATH="$HOME/go"

Then, add this to your PATH:


Close the terminal and open it again for the changes to take effect.

Once you have installed Go, add dep, which is currently the recommended dependency manager for Go projects.

Python Development

Fedora includes both Python 2 and Python 3. To run Python 3, be sure to specify python3 as the interpreter:

python3 --version

The python interpreter is Python 2, which you should not use for new software.

To maintain current and clean Python environments, install pipenv. It drives the pip and virtual environment features that are included with Python itself, but is more powerful and easier to use than working with these features directly.

Enter this command to install pipenv:

sudo dnf install pipenv

rustup for Rust Development

The official rustup utility enables you to install the tools for building software with the Rust programming language. Click on the Install button on the front page of the Rust Website, and follow the instructions.

This process installs all of the tools into your home directory, and does not add any files into shared system directories.

The installer does not currently add the correct directory to your PATH. To use your Rust installation, edit the .bashrc file in your home directory to add this line:

source $HOME/.cargo/env

Close the terminal and open it again for the changes to take effect.

The Rust packages from Fedora may provide older versions of Rust, and do install the Rust tools into system directories.

Containers and Virtual Machines

Fedora Workstation includes GNOME Boxes to create and manage your virtual machines, as well as systemd-nspawn for simple containers.

The Fedora project also provide packages for Docker. The Docker packages for Fedora have more thorough testing and better integration with the operating system than packages from the Docker, Inc. Website.

Installing Docker

To install Docker on Fedora, enter these commands in a terminal window:

sudo dnf install docker
sudo systemctl enable docker
sudo systemctl start docker

SQL Databases

Consider using containers to provide the database services for your Web applications. This enables you to use different versions of the database servers for different projects, and ensure that you are running the same versions as the database instances on your production systems.

If you prefer to install services directly on to your workstation, Fedora provides packages for PostgreSQL and MariaDB. If you need a database server that is compatible with MySQL, install MariaDB. Otherwise, PostgreSQL is often a better choice for new applications.

Installing PostgreSQL

To install PostgreSQL using dnf, enter these commands in a terminal window:

sudo dnf install postgresql-server
sudo postgresql-setup --initdb
sudo systemctl enable postgresql
sudo systemctl start postgresql

These commands install the server, the command-line tools, and the client libraries that are needed to compile adapters for programming languages.

To create a user account for yourself in PostgreSQL with administrative rights, enter this command in a terminal window:

sudo su - postgres
createuser -s YOU

Replace YOU with the username of your account on Fedora.

The -s option means that your new PostgreSQL account is a superuser, with unlimited rights over the databases. Once you have a superuser account, you may use tools like createuser or log in to databases without using sudo or the -U option.

For example, to create an extra user account that is not a superuser:

createuser EXTRA-ACCOUNT

Replace EXTRA-ACCOUNT with the username of the new account.

Refer to the Fedora Wiki article for more information on working with PostgreSQL.