Fedora 11 added many development improvements, enhancements in automation, a step improvement in virtualization, and greatly enhanced security. If you just can't wait to see what Fedora 12 will have to offer, you can now get a peek at:
We have reached the last important development milestone of Fedora 12 and only critical bug fixes will be pushed as updates leading to the general release of Fedora 12 scheduled to be released on next month, mid November. Of course, this is a beta release, so there might be things not quite right. Should you trip across one of them, be sure it gets fixed before release by reporting your discovery at:
What can I expect in Fedora 12?
- Smaller and faster updates - Fedora is used in a wide range of circumstances, and not all have the luxury of a high speed broadband connection with unlimited downloads. This presents a number of challenges, not the least of which is making it easier for users to get updates which will help ensure their system is secure and stable. In Fedora 11, Presto Yum plugin was made available which reduced update size by transmitting only the changes in the updated RPM packages. Going one step further in Fedora 12, Presto Yum plugin is installed by default. In Fedora 12, RPMs have switched from using gzip to XZ for compression, providing smaller package sizes without the memory and CPU penalties associated with bzip2. Not only does this result in smaller downloads, but it also allows for more software to be squeezed into the final release, and less space to be taken up on our mirrors, making their administrators' lives a little easier.
- NetworkManager broadband and other enhancements - NetworkManager, originally developed by Dan Williams at Red Hat, was introduced in Fedora 7 and has become the de facto network configuration solution for distributions everywhere. Fedora 12 includes enhancements to NetworkManager to make both system-wide connections and mobile broadband connections easier than ever. Signal strength and network selection are available for choosing the best mobile broadband connection when you're on the road. Bluetooth PAN support has been enhanced to provide a simple click through process to enable pairing. And if you're at a system that requires an always-on connection or static addressing, NetworkManager will now allow you to configure that connection directly from the desktop, and includes PolicyKit integration so configuration management can be done via central policy where needed. It also has improved IPv6 support.
- Next-generation Ogg Theora video - For several years, the open, free, and patent-unencumbered Theora format has provided a way for freedom-loving users to share video. Fedora 12 includes the new Theora 1.1, which achieves near-H.264 quality in a completely free and open codec and format. Thanks to the work of the Xiph.Org Foundation's Christopher Montgomery, sponsored by Red Hat, and the contribution of Mozilla.org, users of the Firefox 3.5 browser can immediately enjoy free media on the web, using the Ogg Theora video and Ogg Vorbis audio formats. With the introduction of Theora 1.1, the quality of free video can meet or exceed user expectations, delivering crisp, vibrant media in both streaming and downloadable form.
- Graphics support improvements - Fedora 12 introduces experimental 3D support for AMD Radeon HD 2400 and later graphics cards. To try it out, install the mesa-dri-drivers-experimental package. On many cards, this should allow desktop effects to be used. Kernel mode setting support, which was introduced on AMD hardware in Fedora 10 and extended to Intel hardware in Fedora 11, is now extended to NVIDIA hardware as well, meaning the great majority of systems now benefit from the smooth, fully-graphical startup sequence made possible by KMS. The Fedora graphical startup sequence now works better on systems with multiple monitors. Also on multiple monitor systems, the desktop will now automatically be spread across all monitors by default, rather than having all monitors display the same output, including on NVIDIA chips (where multiple monitor spanning was not possible without manual configuration changes in Fedora 11). Systems with NVIDIA graphics chips also gain initial support for suspend and resume functionality via the default Nouveau driver.
- Virtualization improvements - Not content with all the improvements in Fedora 11, virtualization has been kicked up another notch in Fedora 12. There are improvements allowing virtual machines to better share resources, performance improvements, and management improvements. And of course, still more security improvements.
- Automatic reporting of crashes and SELinux issues - Abrt, a tool to help non-power users with reporting crashes to Bugzilla with a few mouse clicks, is now enabled by default. Making it easier to report such issues with detailed information collected automatically will help developers identify and resolve issues faster, improving the quality of individual upstream components as well as Fedora on the whole. In a similar vein, the SELinux alert monitoring tool has added the ability to report SELinux issues to Bugzilla quickly and easily with just a couple of clicks.
- New Dracut initrd generation tool - Up until Fedora 10, the boot system (initial ram disk or initrd) used to boot Fedora was monolithic, very distribution specific and didn't provide much flexibility. This has been replaced with Dracut, a initial ram disk with a event based framework designed to be distribution independent. It has been also adopted by OLPC which uses Fedora. OLPC modules for Dracut are available in the Fedora repository.
- Bluetooth on-demand - In order to support Bluetooth devices, Bluetooth background service was started by default in previous versions of Fedora. In this release, Bluetooth service is started on demand when needed and automatically stops 30 seconds after last device use instead reducing initial startup time and resources.
- Moblin graphical interface for netbooks - Moblin graphical interface and applications are fully integrated in Fedora 12 as a result of Peter Robinson, a Fedora Project volunteer and others. Using Moblin on Fedora 12 is easy: just install the Moblin Desktop Environment package group, using yum or the graphical software management tools, and choose Moblin from the login manager. The Moblin project will also make a Fedora 12-based Moblin live spin available.
- Lower process privileges - In order to mitigate the impact of security vulnerabilities, permissions have been hardened for many files and system directories and process privileges have been lowered for a number of core components that require super user privileges. Steve Grubb from Red Hat has developed a new library, libcap-ng, and integrated it into many core system components to improve the security of Fedora.
- SELinux sandbox - Fedora 12 now provides the ability to confine the access of applications and run them in a secure sandbox that takes advantage of the sophisticated capabilities of SELinux. Dan Walsh, SELinux developer at Red Hat explains the details at http://danwalsh.livejournal.com/31146.html
- Open Broadcom firmware - Wireless support for Broadcom wireless cards has been improved due to the inclusion of openfwwf by default which provides open source Broadcom firmware. This means wireless networking will be available out of the box on some Broadcom chipsets.
- Hybrid live images - The Live images provided in this release can be directly copied onto a USB stick (using dd) to create bootable Live USB keys. Fedora Live USB creator is still recommended for data persistence and non-destructive writes.
- Better webcam support - While Fedora 11 improved webcam support, in Fedora 12 you can expect even better video quality, especially for less expensive webcams.
- GNOME 2.28 - Fedora 12 includes the latest version of the GNOME desktop. A lighter Gnote now replaces Tomboy as the default note application, and Empathy replaces Pidgin as the default instant messenger.
- GNOME Shell preview - Fedora 12 includes an early version of GNOME Shell, which will become the default interface for GNOME 3.0 and beyond. To try it out, install the gnome-shell package, and use the Desktop Effects configuration tool to enable it. It will only work correctly from the GNOME desktop environment, not others such as KDE or Xfce.
- KDE 4.3 - The new KDE has an updated "Air" appearance, with improved performance, and new desktop effects.
- Fedora Studio - All the audio and video applications are categorized better on the menu, making it easier to find a specific application.
- Clustered Samba - Multiple instances of Samba running on different nodes in a cluster can now export a single filesystem to provide higher availability.
- Multi-Pointer X - The update to X.Org server 1.7 provides Fedora with the X Input Extension version 2.0 (XI2). This extension provides a new client API for handling input devices and also Multi-Pointer X (MPX) functionality. MPX functionality allows users to create and remove new cursors and keyboard foci on the fly and dynamically reattach physical input devices to these cursors/foci. Each cursor/foci pair is independent of the others and can be used simultaneously, allowing for multi-user interaction on a single screen, bi-manual input and more. The XI2 API provides clients with full access to each input device and its events. Clients can thus treat events from each input devices separately, implementing features such as multi-user editing in the same document. XI2 provides several other enhancements detailed in the release notes. This is low-level work that applications and desktop environments will incrementally take advantage of in future releases.
OK, go try it. You know you can't wait.
Draft release notes available and guides for several languages is available at