Fedora 13 Linux “Goddard” Takes Flight

The Red Hat-sponsored Fedora Project today officially released the Fedora 13 Linux distribution, codenamed “Goddard,” with improvements aimed at both new and experienced Linux users.

The new Fedora 13 release comes six months after Fedora 12’s debut and continues to enhance the Linux operating system experience for its users. Fedora 13 includes improved virtualization, along with other developer, desktop and server improvements.

“We have a number of features designed to make Fedora a more pleasant release for everyone that uses it, not just the super hackers among us, but also the people that are just discovering open source for the first time, and everyone in between,” Fedora Project Leader Paul Frields told InternetNews.com.

In particular, Frields cited hardware enablements as a “consistent theme” in the Fedora 13 release. Chief among those include improved free video, printer, scanner and camera drivers and management features. Frields also noted that the new color management feature in Fedora 13 provides a true-color workflow for scanning, printing and display.

“All the improvements are grouped around making hardware work better for people with a minimum of fuss,” he said.

Fedora 13 also packs in improvements for a group that Frields referred to as “downstream” developers.

“When we say ‘upstream’ in the open source world, the people we think of are those that are building open source software that distributions like Fedora then download and package as part of a whole operating system,” Frields said. “Downstream developers are people that are building solutions that may not have anything to do with Fedora or Linux, but who are very important to the future of free software.”

The downstream-focused improvements in Fedora 13 includes enhancements to how the Linux distribution handles Python development, with new support for the open source language intended to make Python debugging easier for developers.

Additionally, there will now be a parallel Python 2.6 and Python 3 stack in Fedora 13. Python 3 is the next generation of the language, though it is not yet as widely adopted as the previous-generation Python 2.6. As a result, providing both versions in Fedora 13 enables to developers to write code that will work for both sets of Python environments.

Looking beyond the stability of mature open source applications, Fedora 13 is also introducing new technology as a preview that isn’t yet ready for prime time with the Btrfs filesystem. Fedora 13 includes a feature called System Rollback with Btrfs, which enables filesystem snapshots.

“The system rollback feature is something that is still experimental, as Btrfs is still considered experimental although it shows a lot of promise for really large-scale filesystem support,” Frields said. “The majority of people trying out Btrfs are large-system administrators, where they’ve got hundreds of terabytes of storage where they’re looking to make more efficient use of their filesystem.”

The new Fedora 13 release comes as Red Hat is ramping up its development effort for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (RHEL). While Fedora benefits from contributions made by Red Hat staffers, Frields doesn’t think that the Fedora Project has been starved for resources as a result of RHEL 6 development.

“We get a lot of support from Red Hat as a sponsor and from Red Hat engineers because they really look at Fedora as being an intrinsic part of their jobs,” Frields said. “Making things work well in Fedora makes things better for Red Hat in the future versions of RHEL.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.