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Red Hat's Fedora 9 debuts with new features

It's now easier to run on a USB drive without data loss and reformatting

By Todd R. Weiss
May 13, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Users of Red Hat Inc.'s Fedora who wanted an easier way to use the popular and free community-supported Linux operating system on portable USB drives have had their wishes granted.

The improved USB drive capabilities are one of the biggest new features of the latest Fedora 9 release, which was announced today.

The USB drive capabilities mean that Fedora 9 Live images can be added to a USB key under a Linux or Windows application with no loss of data loss, and without the need for repartitioning or reformatting, which increases flexibility for users, Red Hat said.

Other Fedora 9 new features include the following:

  • The latest KDE 4 graphical user interface, with its new desktop design.
  • An integrated desktop search tool to make it easier for users to find their files.
  • The integration of OpenJDK6, the open-source implementation of Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java SDK Standard Edition.
  • Improvements to NetworkManager, including wider support for mobile broadband, multiple connections and connection editing and sharing.
  • GNOME 2.22, which has a world time clock, better file system performance, security improvements, power management at log-in, dynamic display configuration capabilities and improved Bluetooth integration and podcast support.
Fedora 9 comes six months after the release of Fedora 8 last November under Red Hat's Fedora update schedule.

Free downloads of Fedora 9 are available at the Fedora Project Web site.

Red Hat touts Fedora as the ongoing, free version of its Linux operating system, for use by anyone, including consumers, hobbyists and open-source fans. Last month, Red Hat said that because it continues to expand the Fedora Project, it has no plans to release a retail version of its Linux operating system specifically for consumers.

Paul Frields, the Fedora Project Leader at Red Hat, said the new USB thumb drive capabilities include another huge feature for users called "persistence." With persistence, changes can be saved in the operating system image on the thumb drive, allowing them to remain or "persist" whenever the drive is booted up again in the future.

Previously, such changes couldn't be saved, just as a CD-ROM can't be modified once it is closed. In Fedora 9, as long as a user has a thumb drive of at least 2GB, there will be enough free space for both operating system changes and data files to be saved on the drive, Frields said.

"Persistence is an overlay," Frields said. "It captures information on the changes you make to the image. It's something that lives on, even when you're not paying attention to it, so changes stay on the [drive] even after you power down."

"This live USB changes that whole game," he said.

Red Hat is also providing the tools to make USB drives for Fedora 9 using a Windows-based computer. The Windows operating system can be used to load Fedora 9 onto the thumb drive, then the drive can be used to reboot the Windows machine and run Fedora 9.

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