Fedora 18 arrives ready for the cloud

Open source OS includes support for Eucalyptus and OpenStack, along with instant VM snapshooting and dual-booting with Windows 8

Fedora 18 has at long last arrived, loaded with new features to entice desktop users, such as dual-boot support for Windows 8 and a menu of GUIs, as well as cloud-curious admins and developers.

The open source OS emerged in beta form last November after several delays due to an underestimation of the amount of work required to rewrite the Anaconda software, which is used to install or upgrade Fedora. This final release was expected to drop on Jan. 8 -- almost two months after the original ship date.

This latest release, which is built on the 3.6.0 kernel, includes a wealth of changes for system admins, developers, and desktop users. For starters, it supports dual-booting with Windows 8, though the documentation cautions that using the Windows 8's fast restart feature and rebooting into Fedora may lead to data loss. Also, the Anaconda installer has been totally redesigned, giving users greater flexibility in how they configure their installation. Some tasks will run in the background, thereby speeding up the installation process.

Fedora 18 now supports live snapshotting of virtual machines. Previously, Fedora supported snapshots, but doing so required pausing or stopping the VMs. Live snapshot creation now works even for virtual machines using disk images stored in RAW format.

The Fedora team has injected cloud support into Fedora 18 as well. Eucalytpus enables the creation of private IaaS (infrastructure as a service) clouds that are compatible with AWS (Amazon Web Services), while OpenShift Origin brings PaaS (platform as a service) support. Fedora 18 also includes the latest version of the OpenStack IaaS cloud service, Folsom. Further, Heat has been added, providing an AWS CloudFormation API for OpenStack.

On the desktop, Fedora 18 includes the latest Gnome release, which yields integration with Microsoft SkyDrive alongside Google Docs. It also has a new connector for ActiveSync/Exchange Accounts, complementing the included connector for Google accounts. In addition, Fedora 18 offers integrated enterprise login information, letting users connect to large networks so that they can view and potentially modify account settings in the Gnome 3.6 Control Center.

Users who aren't enamored by Gnome 3 have choices: Fedora 18 also support Cinnamon, an advanced desktop environment that leverages advanced Gnome 3 features while providing users with a more traditional, accessible desktop experience. Fedora 18 also offers the MATE Desktop, which brings back a classic desktop users have requested, according to the documentation.

For developers, Fedora 18 offers an update to Perl 5.16, a Python update to 3.3, and the latest version of the Ruby on Rails framework. Additionally, the OS includes Version 1.50 of Boost, a collection of C libraries; Version 2.0 of Systemtap, which includes a new prototype back end that uses Dynlnst to instrument a user's own binaries at runtime; and new tracing capabilities via Fedora 18's lttng-tools and ltt-ust packages. Securitywise, Fedora 18 can be used on an Active Directory domain (as well as other Kerberos realms, e.g. IPA) out of the box. Per the documentation, "it should be easy to configure domain logins on a Fedora machine, and then it should be intuitive and uneventful to log in with those credentials."

It's also now possible to create a trusted relationship between an IPA and an Active Directory domain, enabling users to access resources from domains outside their own. The Gnome User Accounts Settings GUI features support for enterprise logins. Fedora 18 also supports UEFI Secure Boot, enabling the OS to boot on that have Secure Boot enabled.

A full list of changes in Fedora 18 is outlined in the release's documentation.

This story, "Fedora 18 arrives ready for the cloud," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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