Fedora is a leading edge free and open source operating system and continues to deliver innovative features to many users with a new release every six months. We have reached the Fedora 12 Beta, the last important development milestone of Fedora 12 and only critical bug fixes will be pushed as updates leading up to the general release of Fedora 12, scheduled to be released next month, in mid-November. We invite you to join us and participate in making Fedora 12 a solid release by downloading, testing and providing us your valuable feedback.
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's New in Fedora 12?
- Smaller and faster updates - Many Fedora users do not have the luxury of a high-speed broadband connection, making it more difficult for them to access the essential updates to keep their systems secure and stable. In Fedora 11, the optional yum-presto plugin reduced update size by transmitting only the changes in the updated packages. Now, the plugin is installed by default. Also, RPMs now use XZ rather than gzip for compression, providing smaller package sizes without the memory and CPU penalties associated with bzip2. This makes package downloads smaller, lets us fit more software into each Fedora image, and means less space is used on mirrors, making their administrators' lives a little easier.
- NetworkManager broadband and other enhancements - NetworkManager, originally developed by Red Hat's Dan Williams, was introduced in Fedora 7 and has become the de facto network configuration solution for distributions everywhere. Enhancements to NetworkManager 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 offers a simple click through process to access the Internet from your mobile phone. NetworkManager can now configure always-on and static address connections directly from the desktop. PolicyKit integration has been added so configuration management can be done via central policy where needed. IPv6 support has also been improved.
- Next-generation Ogg Theora video - For several years, the open, free, and un-patent-encumbered 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, meeting the expectations of demanding users with crisp, vibrant media in both streaming and downloadable form. Thanks to the work of the Xiph.Org Foundation's Christopher "Monty" Montgomery, sponsored by Red Hat, other Xiph developers, and the contribution of Mozilla.org, Firefox 3.5 can deliver free media on the web out of the box, using the Ogg Theora video and Ogg Vorbis audio formats.
- 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 support should allow desktop effects to be used. Kernel mode setting (KMS) 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. Initial support for the new DisplayPort display connector has been added for Intel graphics chips.
- Virtualization improvements - Not content with all the improvements in Fedora 11, we've kicked virtualization up another notch in Fedora 12. There are improvements allowing virtual machines performance improvements, management improvements, better resource sharing, and still more security enhancements. A new library (libguestfs) and an interactive tool (guestfish) are now available for directly accessing and modifying virtual machine disk images.
- Automatic reporting of crashes and SELinux issues - Abrt, a tool to help non-power users report 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 as a 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 11, 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, an initial ram disk generation tool with an 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. Of note, is that by default, Dracut generates generic initramfs images containing most kernel modules needed to boot on most hardware, increasing file size by about 3 times. To switch to more efficient hostonly images, see /etc/dracut.conf.
- PackageKit plugins - PackageKit now has a plugin which offers to install the appropriate package if a user tries to run a command from a package which is not yet installed. Another new plugin allows installation of software packages from a web browser.
- Bluetooth on-demand - Bluetooth services are automatically started when needed and stopped 30 seconds after last device use, reducing initial startup time and resource use when Bluetooth is not in active use.
- Moblin graphical interface for netbooks - The Moblin graphical interface and applications are fully integrated thanks to Peter Robinson, a Fedora Project volunteer, and others. To use it, just install the Moblin Desktop Environment package group using yum or the graphical software management tools, and choose Moblin from the login manager. A F12 Moblin Fedora Remix (installable Live CD) will also be available.
- PulseAudio enhancements - Lennart Poettering from Red Hat and several others have made significant improvements to the PulseAudio system. Improved mixer logic makes volume control more fine-grained and reliable. Integration with the Rygel UPnP media server means you can stream audio directly from your system to any UPnP / DLNA client, such as a Playstation 3. Hotplug support has been made more intelligent, so if you configure a certain output device as the default for all or certain streams, unplug it - causing the stream(s) to be moved to another output device - and later replug it, the stream(s) will now be moved back to the preferred device. Finally, Bluetooth audio support means that simply pairing with any Bluetooth audio device will make it available for use through PulseAudio.
- 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. Red Hat's Steve Grubb has developed a new library, libcap-ng, and integrated it into many core system components to improve the security of Fedora.
- SELinux sandbox - It is now possible to confine applications' access to the system 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 - The openfwwf open source Broadcom firmware is included by default. 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 imaged onto a USB stick using dd (or any equivalent tool) to create bootable Live USB keys. Using 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 - The latest version of the GNOME desktop includes the lighter Gnote replacement for Tomboy as the default note application, and Empathy replaces Pidgin as the default instant messenger. The new volume control application, first seen in Fedora 11, has been improved to restore some of the popular functionality from earlier releases without making the interface too complex.
- 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, 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 features an updated "Air" theme and fully configurable keyboard shortcuts in Plasma, improved performance and new desktop effects in the window manager, a new bug reporting tool, and a configuration tool for the LIRC infra-red remote control system.
- Multi-Pointer X - The update to X.Org server 1.7 introduces the X Input Extension version 2.0 (XI2), with much work contributed by Red Hat's Peter Hutterer. This extension provides a new client API for handling input devices and also Multi-Pointer X (MPX) functionality. MPX functionality allows X to cope with many inputs of arbitrary types simultaneously, a prerequisite for (among others) multitouch-based desktops and multi-user interaction on a single screen. This is low-level work that applications and desktop environments will incrementally take advantage of in future releases. More details are available in the Release Notes and in the XI2 tag of Peter Hutterer's blog at http://who-t.blogspot.com/search/label/xi2
OK, go get it. You know you can't wait.
Draft release notes and guides for several languages are available at