Fedora 13 beta looks to streamline Linux

Work contributed back to original open source projects

The Red Hat-backed Fedora Linux distribution is preparing its version 13 release with a new beta that aims to simplify the user experience through more automation.

For the past few releases of Fedora, it has been the goal of the team to automate some of the hardware and software tools that help users get their work done with a “minimal amount of fuss”, say the developers.

“When the user plugs in a USB printer, inserts a specialised CD, such as collection of music files as opposed to a standard audio CD, or downloads or opens an archive file, PackageKit is designed to detect the user’s action and offer to install software helpers,” the developers wrote when announcing Fedora 13 beta.

With Windows and Mac OS X continuing to dominate the consumer market, a more seamless experience on the desktop is something Linux distributions have been working towards in recent releases.

“With free and open source software, there is no artificial scarcity of software, and no need for the user to buy expensive upgrades for basic, expected functionality.”

Fedora 13 is also pitching itself as a release for software developers as it will allow a “parallel-installable” Python 3 stack for the first time. This allows developers to write and test code using either the current Python 2.6 or the next-generation Python 3 language.

In addition to Python improvements, new functions in the GNU debugger, gdb, allow it to deliver unified information for C and C++ libraries and Python in the same running process. Hence, programmers who are writing Python code with C or C++ functions can now detect and debug problems in their code more easily.

This integration work has been contributed to the “upstream” open source projects.

“And when combined with applications like Eclipse, we believe that programmers will have a premier development environment where they can turn the next generation of open source ideas into code,” according to the developers.

For system administrators the next-generation Btrfs Linux file system can choose this as an option. New features in Btrfs allow for rollbacks of entire file system states, improving the options for application testing and system recovery.

Fedora 13 will also add an installable package of Zarafa, a groupware package with functionality similar to Microsoft Exchange.

Zafara has e-mail, calendaring, and collaboration tools which can be used by Linux and Windows clients.

Other changes include experimental 3D support for NVIDIA video cards and a redesigned user account tool.

For a detailed list of the changes slated for the final Fedora 13 release, see the online documentation at: http://docs.fedoraproject.org.

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