The Fedora 9 Beta (nicknamed Sulphur) was released yesterday and the final release is expected on April 29. You can read the official release here. The latest version of the free (yeah, free as in beer…) cousin of Red Hat Linux comes with a number of major updates, including support for the latest versions of the KDE and GNOME desktop environments (Yay! Shiny!). Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll be seeing in this release and some of the major changes you’ll find. You can download the beta here: fedoraproject.org.
Some of the major changes are:
- Uses the 2.6.25-rc5 Linux kernel
- GNOME 2.22 with world time clock, improved file system performance, and security improvements
- KDE 4.0.2 with a completely redesigned desktop manager look and feel, and integrated desktop search
- Firefox 3 Beta as the default web browser (with Flash plugin installed already)
- Support for resizing ext2, ext3, and NTFS partitions during installation
Other big features are
GNOME Desktop 2.22
GNOME 2.22 brings many improvements, not least of which is the introduction of GVFS and GIO as a replacement for GNOME VFS. GVFS introduces many benefits including performance improvements, queuing multiple file transfers, and security enhancements via PolicyKit, which was first introduced in Fedora 8.
GNOME 2.22 also comes with a new world clock applet that displays the time and weather conditions for multiple time zones simultaneously.
Another great feature is the new Gnome Display Manager. It is a significant change from the previous GDM, enabling many new and exciting features. These features include the ability to take advantage of power management at the login screen, the ability to dynamically configure displays, potential improvements for “hot-seating,” and better integration with PolicyKit.
GNOME Application Improvements
In GNOME, sharing files via Bluetooth has been better integrated into the desktop, rather than relying on several separate applications. Palm Pilots can also now be synchronised using Bluetooth.
Totem, among other improvements, now has better text subtitles support, a YouTube search plugin, and a MythTV plugin.
Rhythmbox is now the default CD player, and has UPNP support as well as better Podcast support (Atom feeds and iTunes podcasts).
A number of bugs have been fixed in the sound recorder, making it solid enough to be included in Fedora 9.
KDE Desktop 4.0.2
KDE Desktop 4.0.2 features upgrades to core components such as the port to Qt 4. It also introduces a number of brand new frameworks such as the Phonon, a multimedia API; Solid, a hardware integration framework; Plasma, a re-written desktop and panel with many new concepts; integrated desktop search; compositing as a feature of KWin; and a brand new visual style called Oxygen.
Thanks to the hard work of the Fedora KDE Special Interest Group, KDE 4.0 is well integrated in Fedora. As a result, KDE 4.0 is the default for the KDE spin of Fedora, and includes compatibility packages to ensure that applications not yet ported to KDE 4 will continue to work.
Firefox 3 Beta 5 Browser
Firefox 3 Beta 5 brings a number of major improvements including a native look and feel, desktop integration, the new Places replacement for bookmarks, and a re-worked address bar. It’s the default browser for Fedora 9 Beta.
Flash Browser Plugin
Thanks to swfdec changing to a GStreamer backend, Fedora can now ship a free software flash browser plugin available out of the box. It is capable of playing many flash content including videos, animation and games. Note that Fedora only includes patent unencumbered free software components.
Consolidated Dictionary Support
For some time, several Fedora applications, including OpenOffice.org, Firefox, Thunderbird, GNOME and KDE, have each had their own set of dictionaries. This situation was obviously not ideal, and unnecessarily increased resources like the size and memory footprint of Fedora releases. This problem is now fixed by consolidating all the dictionaries. This feature, which requires a number of changes to various software packages, is now almost complete and the benefits are already apparent in the Beta release.
During the Fedora 8 release cycle, Fedora got a new Font Special Interest Group. Working exclusively to ensure that our packaged fonts meet with our own standards with respect to free software, and cater to as many languages as possible, they have been busy reviewing and packaging new fonts for Fedora 9. There’s much more work still to be done, but below is a brief summary of what has been achieved so far:
- DejaVu full replaces DejaVu LGC as default font set. DejaVu LGC is still available in the repo for users who prefer it.
- The Luxi font has been dropped since its license does not allow modifications.
- DejaVu and Liberation updated to new versions with more coverage.
- The Stix, Tiresias, Yanonne, and Greek Font Society font sets, and several others, have been added to the Fedora software repository.
- Many font packages were renamed and reorganized to avoid bundling font and regions.