The much anticipated beta of Fedora 14 was released today, with the final code to be ready in November. It included a few features that may surprise you. For one, it lets users opt for a MeeGo look and feel. For another, it supports Red Hat's new desktop virtualization technology. Taken together, it seems as if Fedora is making itself more useful for the rising tablet market.
Fedora 14, nicknamed "Laughlin," will be the first Red Hat supported distribution to let users choose MeeGo as their desktop. MeeGo is a Linux desktop architecture for mobile devices, netbooks, embedded Linux devices (such as In Vehicle Infotainment systems). It is based in the GNOME mobile platform but has been beefed up with additional technologies (Clutter, GUPnP and libsocialweb). Fedora 14 will include the MeeGo Netbook UX specifically for netbook users as a "user environment that sits on top of Fedora and associated MeeGo core services. The netbook user interface and user interaction model for the target devices then is on top of that. ... This expands on the existing support we've had for Moblin in Fedora 12 and 13."
This could be exciting news for those rooting for MeeGo. It was first announced in Barcelona in February, backed by Nokia and Intel. MeeGo supports a more traditional Linux environment, making it easier to port a favorite Linux desktop/server to a mobile device, rather than rewriting it for Android.
Fedora 14 will continue its support of the Sugar interface, originally designed for netbooks such as those produced by One Laptop Per Child. Sugar is an environment geared toward students which includes a Journal, a bundle of open-source applications called Activities (Web browser, video viewer, etc.). Fedora's own flavor is Sugar on a Stick, which is the Sugar operating system on a USB stick.
Fedora 14 will also be the first version to fully incorporate Red Hat's VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), called SPICE, or Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments. SPICE will allow Fedora to host virtual desktops that can be accessed over a network.
SPICE could make it easier to deploy Fedora 14-based netbooks in a business environment, though this too is being positioned as a tool for netbooks. "This framework allows end-users to enjoy the features they enjoy, such as accelerated 2D graphics, encryption, and audio playing and recording, all while working in a virtualized environment," says Dennis Gilmore of the Fedora Team in an e-mail to the fedoraproject.org distribution list
I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that Fedora 14 isn't just for netbooks, but includes several new projects for using it on servers. Gilmore notes that Fedora 14 has additional IPMI support. (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) to manage servers. The new ipmiutil adds features including Serial-over-LAN and identity LED management. It also includes a preview of systemd, the next-generation replacement for Upstart and SystemV init. Systemd should offer you faster boot times, the ability to track processes, daemons, and sockets, and system state snapshotting.
If you use Red Hat, you might want to take Fedora 14 out for a spin in the lab, either now in the beta version, or when it's complete in November. Fedora is Red Hat's community-built FOSS distribution of Linux. It is where the cutting-edge technologies get a shake down. After that, they may work their way into the long-term supported version of Red Hat's subscription operating systems.
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