Fedora 8 (Werewolf) Release Summary
The Fedora 8 release summary provides a quick overview of the major new features in this release. Why not download and enjoy this great combination of the latest and most robust free and open source software available. Enjoy your freedom!
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What's New in Fedora 8?
New Fedora Custom Spins
Spins are variations of Fedora built from a specific set of software packages. Each spin has a combination of software to meet the requirements of a specific kind of end user. The applications the targeted end users need are pre-installed and configured, saving them time and manual effort. What's more, it's easy for anybody to create a spin using Fedora's remixing tools.
There are three new CustomSpins being shipped with Fedora 8: Games, Developer, and Electronic Lab.
Fedora Games Spin: This spin is a Live DVD that allows you to explore the wonderful and fun gaming potential of Fedora without altering your existing setup. Included are a variety of modern, 3-D shooters such as Nexuiz and Quake 3, along with classics such as Freeciv and Nethack!
Fedora Developer Spin: This spin is a Live DVD jam-packed with various development applications, such as Eclipse, Anjuta, git, cvs, lynx, emacs, and a hex editor; and build tools like GCC, Inkscape, Koji, createrepo, mock, rpmdevtools, rpmlint and much more.
Fedora Electronics Lab Spin : This spin helps professionals and students design, simulate and program electronic systems. Included are tools for analog and digital simulation, circuit simulation, hardware development, micro-controller development, and embedded systems development.
!PulseAudio is a sound daemon that brings ear candy to Fedora users. LennartPoettering, !PulseAudio (and Avahi) upstream maintainer and Fedora developer, has made a number of improvements to this software recently, and Fedora is the first distribution to enable it by default. With !PulseAudio, users can enjoy features such as different volumes for different applications, hot-plugging support for USB sound devices, very low latency, and support for audio over the network. You can even dynamically move the audio stream between applications, or different systems! !PulseAudio emulates other audio frameworks like OSS, ALSA, and esound, and provides compatibility with most audio applications.
CodecBuddy, also known as codeina, guides users to better quality open formats when they attempt to play multimedia content that is in a proprietary or patent encumbered format. It also explains why we don't support these formats in Fedora by default, and can help install appropriate plugins at the user's request. It works as a wrapper around the Gstreamer multimedia framework, making it easy to expand in the future.
When users attempt to play an MP3 file in totem, they are greeted with this explanation:
You can find more information about CodecBuddy at the Fedora multimedia page.
New Look and Feel
Fedora has a new default theme, created specifically for this release, called Nodoka. Nodoka's goal is to create a complete and original theme for Fedora consistent throughout the entire desktop while remaining subtle and calming.
Also included with Fedora 8 is the new desktop artwork, called "Infinity", the main focus of which is the beautiful new wallpaper. One of the coolest features of this wallpaper is that, depending on the time of day, it changes color to reflect outdoor conditions: at mid-day, for example, it is a bright blue, while at sun-set it shifts to include a warm-orange hue.
New Graphical Firewall Configuration Tool : system-config-firewall
This new tool makes it simple for anybody to tweak and administer the firewall settings on their system. Improvements range from a wizard which walks you step by step through configuring your firewall, to a simple checkbox interface for opening and closing services to the outside world.
Enhanced Printer Management : system-config-printer
Now when a new printer is added to the system, Fedora automatically enables a driver and creates a print queue for it. If there is not an exact driver match for the model of printer attached, Fedora falls back on a close model, a generic driver, or in the very worst case a generic text-only driver. All the way through this automated process, the user is kept informed through notifications.
Refer to this post for more information or watch this quick screencast . This tool also has been adopted by the latest version of Ubuntu 7.10. We continue to welcome and support countless other Linux distributions, operating systems and free software projects that adopt, improve and collaborate on many free software innovations from Fedora.
Seamless Bluetooth integration
Building on the framework from the BlueZ community, the Fedora team has been working on the graphical front-end integration, such as gnokii and gnome-phone-manager. Gnokii now has the ability to receive out-of-band notifications for new SMSes within the AT driver. This means that people with Samsung or Sony Ericsson phones can finally use gnome-phone-manager, and that these capabilities will use less power and be faster to show these devices on your desktop.
A screencast is available for a demonstration of all the integration work done by the Fedora developers. Work continues on the gnome-phone-manager to enable support for the D-Bus interface, integration into Conduit for address book and calendar synchronization, the new device wizard, and plenty more. hosted/
Java Support : IcedTea
OpenJDK still has some binary encumbrances . IcedTea has been created specifically to remove these encumbrances and liberate Java for use on a completely free and open source system. It has been developed for Fedora by the Red Hat Java team and others from the community. Fedora developers are also working on integrating changes and improving free and open source Java.
Java applets are supported out of the box in a secure manner on both x86 and x86_64 architectures, thanks to the integration of an improved gcjwebplugin. Obviously, also featured is improved support for desktop Java applications such as Eclipse and Azureus.
Improved Network Management : NetworkManager 0.7
Much of NetworkManager was rewritten for Fedora 8 to bring greater stability, flexibility, and usability. This release includes a solid architecture on which new features will be rolled out as further updates, like Bluetooth, dial-up networking support, multiple active network connections (ie. internet connection sharing), connections without having to log in, and static IP support. While you're waiting for those, some immediate benefits of the new release include:
- Faster, more reliable wireless and wired connections
- Better security of wireless secrets (WPA Enterprise secrets are now stored in the keyring)
- Clearer display of different wireless networks (separated by band, type, and security)
- New DBus API allows better integration with apps you use every day, allowing them to be better aware of network and connectivity changes
Better Laptop Support
Fedora 8 features much improved support for laptop users, including enhanced power management, better support for suspend/resume, and multimedia keys via integration of more quirks . Improving on the tickless kernel for x86 architecture systems in the previous version, we now have that support for x86_64 systems too. The Fedora team has fixed unnecessary wakeups in many pieces of software via the help of powertop reports from developers and testers, and also managed to improve powertop in the process. Background tasks (cron jobs) are now automagically disabled when running on battery. Fedora 8 also includes new wireless drivers to better support existing and new wireless devices as well.
Compiz and Compiz-Fusion
Compiz, the compositing window manager that brings eye candy and usability improvements to the desktop, is installed by default, and is easily enabled by both GNOME and KDE users via the Preferences > Desktop Effects tool from the Fedora team. While Compiz is not yet robust or mature enough to be enabled by default, ongoing, long term Xorg work by Fedora developers continues, so we can enable Compiz by default in the next release.
Compiz Fusion , which re-merges Compiz and Beryl, is also available in the Fedora software repository. Users can easily install Compiz Fusion via the Add/Remove Programs tool or yum.
Package Management Improvements
Pirut includes a brand new repository editor, making it really easy to add, remove, enable and disable repositories. Other package management improvements include the ability to install packages from physical media, and as always, the tools, including yum, are noticeably faster and more reliable too!
"The goal of the GNOME Online Desktop is to adapt the desktop to become the perfect window for online applications like GMail, Photobucket, Facebook, EBay, Wikipedia, and countless others that user and developer momentum is shifting towards."
Fedora 8's repositories have all you need to try a preview of this new technology: simply install the "online-desktop" package. This package installs all the files you need to try Mugshot and Big Board, and configures a session you can launch from GDM to try them in a new configuration. Visit the GNOME Online Desktop page for more information.
The following show the Big Board side bar application search in action. It uses mugshot anonymous application usage statistics to help guide the user into discovering new related software from the large Fedora software repository.
This release offers Kiosk functionality via SELinux, among many new enhancements and security policy changes. We now have merged improvements from the strict policy to a single targeted policy package, and a separate strict policy is not available in Fedora anymore.
glibc package in Fedora 8 now has support for passwords using SHA256 and SHA512 hashing. Before only DES and MD5 were available. The tools to create passwords have not been extended yet, but if such passwords are created in others ways,
glibc will recognize and honor them.
Easy and Painless Administration: PolicyKit
Following all the other security enhancements comes PolicyKit . !PolicyKit is a new toolkit from Fedora developers for controlling privileges of system-wide services. Instead of elevating privileges wholesale to the entire program when needed, !PolicyKit enables very fine grained isolation of higher privileges to small services or non-graphical utilities. This functionality is accessed by programs through a D-Bus interface in coordination with HAL, allowing administrators to control how users perform certain tasks, and which tasks they are allowed to perform. Support for !PolicyKit will be added to administrative tasks and tools throughout the distribution in an incremental fashion.
Secure remote management for Xen, KVM & QEMU virtualization
The libvirt Xen and KVM management API can be securely used from a remote host, using SSL/TLS encryption and x509 certificates for client authentication. The VNC server for Xen and KVM supports the VeNCrypt protocol extension, encrypting the entire guest console session with SSL/TLS and x509 certificates.
The virt-manager application can take advantage of these improvements to allow secure remote management of multiple servers. As an alternative to SSL, virt-manager can also tunnel both libvirt and VNC over SSH. Further details can be found on the virt-manager wiki.
Translation Infrastructure: Transifex
Transifex is a free and open source web system available at http://translate.fedoraproject.org that facilitates the process of submitting translations in various source control management systems (VCSs). The name literally means “translation-builder” (from the latin verb facere). It follows the Fedora model of encouraging upstream collaboration with the default behavior of syncing translations directly with upstream free software projects from which Fedora inherits.
As Transifex is a web based system, it helps translators do more by eliminating the need to subscribe to each VCS and learn its commands and tricks. It is designed to encourage collaboration between developers and maintainers, thus increasing the language coverage of the participating projects. All of this functionality helps to reduce the administrative overhead a project maintainer usually has to manage.
New System Logging Daemon: Rsyslog
Rsyslog offers a number of advantages over sysklogd from the previous release including the following:
- TCP based network transport for log messages
- Secure transport over the network
- A realtime analysis framework for logmessages (e.g. to launch programs on alerts)
- Database backend
- Rule (pattern) based de-multiplexing of log messages (e.g. logging to different files based on regexp)
- Backward compatibility with existing syslog configuration
Fedora Eclipse has been upgraded and is now based upon Eclipse 3.3 (Europa). Also included are plugins providing various bits of functionality:
- JDT - the well-known set of tools for Java programming including advanced editors, refactoring tools, and debugging features.
- CDT - editors, builders, debugger support, etc. for C and C++ development.
- Autotools - included as an addition to the CDT, this plugin provides specialized support including editors and builders for projects using the GNU Autotools (autoconf, automake, etc.).
- Mylyn - a task-focused framework for Eclipse, Mylyn brings tasks into the Eclipse IDE as first-class elements. Among other features, it allows developers to manage their Bugzilla bugs and queries from within Fedora Eclipse.
- PHPEclipse - functionality for developing and testing PHP.
- Specfile Editor - a custom editor with macro completion, hover help, etc. for RPM specfiles.
- !PyDev - tools for writing python.
- !ChangeLog - tools to manage GNU-style !ChangeLogs.
- Version control with CVS and Subversion is supported and the in-development GIT plugin (egit) is also included.
Fedora 8 Interviews
You can find a lot more information about many new features in Fedora 8 from the individual developers at http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Interviews.
Fedora community is well known for the breathless pace of free and open source innovation that it represents and today is no different with the developers already working on and discussing exciting new developments for the Fedora 9 release.