Even though the Arduino is very popular amongst makers and other electronics hobbyist, it is still a fringe platform in most settings. And even though the arduino package is available through many repositories, more testing would be welcome.
What had me going mad was this message: "avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding". Everything seemed to be fine, the lights were blinking when connecting, the logs looked normal, and what's more, all my boards worked when programmed on another system, but not on my Fedora 15 at home! Furthermore, the error seemed to be half sporadic. Sometimes it would fail at once, while other times it got a bit further before it stopped.
Tom writes: "On a hunch (having watched the messages via dmesg when I plug in my arduino) I get rid of gpsd". And that was my problem as well. The gpsd daemon was some how conflicting with the ttyUSB device. One option to remove it would be
service gpsd stop
yum erase gpsd
However, in my case I could not remove the gpsd package because it was a dependency of another application I wanted. In the end, I simply renamed the binary (/usr/sbin/gpsd), so it would not be automatically activated when I plug in the Arduino. Maybe not so elegant, but I could finally get to work with more fun stuff.