Test Center preview: Fedora turns 10
Red Hat's open source standard bearer and mineshaft canary is still everything to every Linux power userFollow @infoworld
There comes a point in the life of any hard-core Linux user when the idea of digging about to find yet another obscure piece of software, compiling the code, and integrating it into your daily routine just seems annoying, not compelling. This is where Fedora comes through. Because more of the popular and necessary packages "just work" with Fedora, less time is burned spinning wheels and more time is available for productive tasks.
To those who grew up with Red Hat Linux, the birth of Fedora was a bit of a surprise. In 2003, Fedora rose from the ashes of Red Hat Linux when Red Hat commercialized its Linux offering under the now-familiar name of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and made Fedora its open source initiative. As it played out, Fedora was, and is, essentially the beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Server. When a Fedora distribution has been released and used the world over for a significant period of time, it forks to become the next iteration of RHEL. Thus, Fedora has always been a community-supported preview of the next version of RHEL.
[ Need a Linux that can boot from a pen drive, run in a sliver of RAM, rejuvenate an old system, or rescue data from a dead PC? See "Specialty Linuxes to the rescue." Read about the very best open source software products in InfoWorld's Best of Open Source Software Awards 2008. ]
Fedora is clearly meant to be a Swiss Army knife, with not just something for everyone, but nearly everything for everyone. Fedora is at home providing an attractive and responsive desktop experience, but it's also nicely equipped to run server tasks without a GUI, and offers a myriad of out-of-the-box development and administration tools that just make life simpler for Linux admins.
For many in the Linux community, Fedora has become the mainstay of projects big and small. Legend has it that Linus Torvalds uses Fedora. It runs on desktops and servers, serving as a foundation to myriad tools and projects, and is generally viewed as a generally stable Linux distribution, but one that can and does change radically from release to release. As befits what is essentially beta code, those releases tend to come fast and furious. Fedora 10 is no exception.
Fedora 10, code-named Cambridge, incorporates some significant changes from Fedora 9, such as a whole new boot process, dubbed Plymouth; support for the ext4 file system; inclusion of the Sugar GUI, originally developed for the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) initiative; updates to both Gnome and KDE; and a new theme, dubbed Solar. The good news is that users who stay current with Fedora releases can update their existing Fedora systems with a few commands rather than a wholesale reinstall.
On the inside
Under the covers, Fedora 10 offers updates to several key elements (such as to kernel version 2.6.27) and incorporates a wide variety of coding tools, from Java, Ruby, Python, Perl, and even Haskell, to the Eclipse IDE, as well as supporting players. Most of these are part and parcel of any Fedora release, of course.
Virtualization is provided in the form of Xen, with options during installation to include and boot a Xen-enabled kernel to perform paravirtualization of Linux VMs running under the main system. Clustering support is there as well.