Fedora 8 Feature Overview
For a release that's seen a shortened development schedule, with a minimal new feature set planned, Fedora sure has seen a lot of cool changes during this release cycle!
To help you get to grips with all the features appearing in Fedora 8, and to celebrate the work of the Fedora community, we've put together an overview of many of the features set for inclusion. While they're only brief previews, hopefully they'll be enough to wet your appetite!
Pulse Audio is now included as the default sound server in Fedora, but what improvements can you expect to get from it?
Audiophiles out there will have been pleased to see the work that occurred in the kernel to make it better with respect to real-time operations, but are probably still disappointed by the user-space experience. Fortunately Pulse Audio really delivers in this area: most prominently, it is incredibly simple to change the volume of every playback stream separately, perhaps opening the door for future audio "bling", such as automatically lowering the volume of audio notifications while the main volume control is turned up for watching a movie. For a bit more information about what Pulse Audio is capable of, we spoke to Lennart Poettering, the developer behind this feature:
You can move streams during playback between output devices. With a single click in our "paprefs" tool you can aggregate all local audio devices into a virtual one, which distributes audio to all outputs, and deals with the small frequency deviations in the sound card's quartzes - and that code even deals with hotplugging/unplugging. If that checkbox is checked, just plug-in your USB headset and you get audio through it.
For a while now, thanks to the work of the BlueZ team there has been very good support for a wide range of bluetooth chipsets; unfortunately, bluetooth in GNU/Linux has suffered from a lack of integration making it uncomfortable for end-users to fully realise this particular feature's potential.
Work done by members of the Fedora project, which has been accepted upstream and is now set to be featured in Fedora 8, is set to ease this problem. Now, when a bluetooth device is connected to the system, a tray icon appears as always but when you right-click it you are given the option to Browse Device. From here, connecting to a bluetooth enabled device, such as a mobile phone with your latest party pictures on it, is as easy as selecting it from a list of devices and clicking Connect: Nautilus will open up in the root folder of the device you've connected to and browsing its file system is as easy as browsing that of a local device.
What's more, some other work has been done to improve gnome-phone-manager and gnokii making it possible for users of Sony Ericsson and Samsung phones to interact with their phone's SMS systems.
For reasons that we're all too familiar with, Fedora can't and won't ship patent encumbered or non-free media codecs. As it says on this feature's wiki page, however, this doesn't change the fact that many Fedora users want to be able to enjoy these files on their system.
To try and improve upon the current situation for Fedora users, Codec Buddy has been created. By working with codeina, Codec Buddy spots when a user tries to play an unsupported file format, alerts them about the problems with patent encumbered/non-free codecs and explains the value of free file formats. In the same dialogue, it also gives the user the option to gain legal access to some of these codecs through the Fluendo web-shop, making it possible to install the necessary files through a simple graphical application.