Fedora 7 blows off (and After Magritte)

It's Friday's IT Blogwatch: in which the Red-Hat-sponsored Fedora project gives birth to its latest baby. Not to mention ceci n'est pas une machine à sous...

Todd R. Weiss tips his hat:

Starting today, Red Hat Inc.'s open-source, community-supported Fedora Linux project is becoming even more open, with the release of its Fedora 7 Linux operating system. The biggest change is that Fedora 7, which drops the old Fedora Core title, has a more open development chain, providing community members with wider involvement in Fedora's step-by-step development. Previously, only Red Hat developers could make key changes in the Fedora code to maintain the project, but now community members will be given more latitude to help maintain the code.


By allowing members to be directly involved earlier in the development process, Red Hat is recognizing that some of the best quality improvements that make their way into Fedora come from the community outside the company's developers ... Highlighting the change is the immediate merger of what formerly had been two distinct development paths for Fedora -- the former "core" operating system, which had been maintained by Red Hat developers, and a separate community-supported "extras" path, where community members were free to use their imaginations to invent whatever features and add-ons they wanted to try out with Fedora. Community members were previously able to make direct changes to source code packages only in the extras environment.


Also new in Fedora 7 ... tools [to] allow users to create customized versions of the operating system ... a user could make a customized Fedora operating system that could be run off a USB thumb drive, a live CD or DVD that doesn't require operating system installation on a hard disk drive ... [and] new Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) and Qemu virtualization technologies in addition to Xen virtualization.


Fedora 7 can be downloaded free from the Fedora Project Web site.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols calls it, "A cutting edge Linux distribution":

Fedora 7 now boasts a completely open-source build process that greatly simplifies the creation of appliances and distributions that can be targeted to meet individual needs ... Fedora 7 is built on top of the Linux 2.6.21 kernel. For its interface, Fedora uses GNOME 2.18. It also includes a goodly assortment of desktop programs. These include Evolution 2.10.1, OpenOffice 2.2, Firefox, and Pidgin 2.0 (formerly called GAIM).


Fedora 7 is now available for download for the i386, x86-64, and ppc architectures. For a listing of mirrors and BitTorrent sites, see the Fedora download page. However, not all mirrors have been updated yet to the latest version. You should also keep in mind that demand for the latest version is already high and, in turn, downloads are moving slowly. The distribution is available as a DVD ISO and as a network installation.

Red Hat's Max Spevack:

One of the Fedora Project's mottos is "the rapid progress of free and open source software." With Fedora Core 5 in March of 2006, Fedora Core 6 in October of 2006, and Fedora 7 today, that's about 7 months per release. And with several million Fedora Core 6 installs, everyone who works on Fedora should feel very proud that not only is the software being released often, but it's also high quality, and in high use around the world.

Fedora 7 represents the culmination of several goals that Fedora has spent the last few releases (spanning the course of at least 2 years) working to achieve ... it is the fundamental infrastructure changes that Fedora 7 represents that are the biggest achievement. The entire Fedora toolchain has been freed. Every step in the distribution-building process is completely open. Code checked into an external CVS. Packages built on a completely external build system. Distros and LiveCDs built on completely open compose tools. All of this functionality is available via the command line or via a graphical tool that is built on the APIs that we provide.

For folks who hack on free software, I hope that this is a compelling development environment in which to work. For folks who are end users of free software, we believe that the Fedora toolchain allows people to remix Fedora, and customize it in ways that will provide a much wider variety of Fedora-based spins than we could ever offer if "Fedora Release Engineering" had to build them all directly.

Chris Tyler puts it another way:

So what software from the repository is ‘on-disc’? Whatever software you want. There will be some initial ISO ’spins’, but Fedora 7 provides tools to assemble any spin you want, either for installation or for use as a live disc. These spins can include any combination of Fedora and non-Fedora packages. So if you want a KDE-based live CD to give out at a seminar, or a server spin that includes your company’s PHP scripts, or a Gnome-based USB version, you can easily make it.

This is an exciting day for the Fedora project, and I look forward to seeing the results of this experiment unfold.

John "$100 laptop" Palmieri is excited:

In the next month or sooner I plan to start merging the OLPC changes and rebasing off of Fedora 7. Right now we base off of Fedora Core 6 with some code forks and new packages.


What this means for OLPC developer is I can now give access to our packages so that they can add and hack on base system components such as TUBES or pyabiword without myself being a blocker for builds. Right now we stick these things in external repositories or someone has to ask someone else to kick off a package build. It also means others can help out on packaging , say if someone is on vacation or just busy, and keep things rolling. And the great thing is this is not all tied to OLPC as anything we get into Fedora can be used and tested for other purposes. For instance the AbiCollab stuff based on TUBES is something I want on my desktop. This will allow developers outside of OLPC to get premade packages to run and play around with and hopefully accelerate adoption of some of the cool technologies being pushed by OLPC.

Be happy, urges crush:

The Fedora Project yet again has made major contributions to FL/OSS which can be enjoyed and improved by everyone. It means that Fedora is completely independent of Red Hat (apart from Red Hat's very generous donation of hardware and developers) and that anyone that wants to can easily produce a specialised "spin" of Fedora suited exactly to their own needs. That's one of the main innovations that Fedora is pursuing with the above: instead of being stuck dependent on the choices of a distributor you can benefit from the patched sources, even their packaging, yet diverge when needed. This should be the goal that every distribution follows, and the only thing that is similar in terms of flexibility is Gentoo, but that IMHO fails to provide an easy path for those that are happy with a distributor making the decisions for them.

I'll freely admit to being a Fedora and Red Hat fan, but I hope that the significance of the release of these build tools is not overlooked by people using other distributions.

Here's fareast, who's tried it out:

The first thing you notice when booting into the liveCD mode is the speed of it; it truly is astonishing how fast it runs as a non-installed system. Better yet, all of my hardware was correctly recognized and I was able to surf the web as I installed.

The real selling point for me was that Beryl is turned on with simply a click, and the Beryl setting manager  is so chock full of choices that I probably spent nearly half my time in the liveCD just playing with all the options.  

Sad, really, how a new distro can turn my head ... So I decided to go for it and install the liveCD. Unlike every other Linux install I had done, this one simply copied the live ISO image to the hard drive; the only question I was asked prior to this was regarding my choice of root password, and what partitioning scheme I wanted (I chose to erase the entire drive and start fresh). If you wanted to resize a drive or push back and existing partition to make room for Fedora 7, then it's truly easy; the system uses the finest partitioner out there, GParted.

From clicking the 'install' icon to restarting into my new desktop environment took only ten minutes; start up was near instantaneous, barely leaving me time to yank the install CD out of the drive ... consider that this is on a seven year old Compaq Presario laptop with a Radeon 350 graphics card, 1Gb ram, 120Gb IDE hard drive, then you have to agree that the results are impressive.


No idea what they put in their Wheaties over at the development offices, but whatever it is, they better market it, and fast.  Words alone cannot describe how cutting edge wonderful this is. Will update as soon as I finish playing with it some more.

Buffer overflow:

Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch

And finally... After Magritte

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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