THE RED-HEADED STEPCHILD of Red Hat, the Fedora Project has been talking up version 13 of its open source Linux operating system distribution.
Fedora 13 has a range of new features and improvements designed to take away some of the distro's rough edges, and according to the release notes it has been designed to boost desktop productivity, assist developers and increase its use in virtualisation.
"Fedora continues to help advance free and open source software and content," said Paul Frields, Fedora project leader at Red Hat. "This release comes just six months after the release of Fedora 12, and it incorporates technologies built by free software developers around the globe. The Fedora Project reciprocates by contributing everything built in Fedora back to the open source community."
'Everything' in this case includes a smoother install process, thanks to Anaconda - Fedora's installer - which will, for example, pop up a prompt when the user plugs in a printer, and improved colour management tools that should make it easier for users to print and produce high quality images. Support for graphics has also been tweaked and Fedora said that 13 could be used in conjunction with a variety of Nvidia cards to enable 3D displays. DisplayPort connectors are also supported on both Nvidia and ATI (R600 and R700) cards.
Fedora 13 also has extended support for stable PCI addresses and new shared network interface technology. Fedora 13 also features improvements in performance for KVM networking and large multi-processor systems.
Developers working in mixed libraries (Python and C/C++) will have new tools it added, and will get more complex information when debugging applications, while a new Systemtap utility adds support for static probes, giving programmers better visibility over coding errors.
Python will be easier to debug, when working with gdb, and a parallel-installable Python 3 stack will let programmers write and test code for use in both Python 2.6 and Python 3 environments, it added.
Support for Netbeans Java EE6 has also been increased, and according to Fedora its NetBeans 6.8 integrated development environment is the first IDE to offer complete support for the entire Java EE 6 specification. IDEA Community Edition support is also featured.
Some experienced users, frustrated with Fedora as is, may appreciate the redesign to the user account tool and accounts dialog and accounts service test packages, which the group said would make it easier to do things like configure personal information, make a personal profile picture or icon, generate a strong passphrase, and set up login options.
Anyone attending the 2010 Red Hat Summit and JBoss World in late June in Boston can take away Fedora 13 on a free USB key. µ