The distribution's kernel is the recently released Linux version 3.1. The Fedora developers have made hardly any changes to the kernel; among the modifications that Fedora has integrated is Utrace, which is relevant for tracing but will probably be replaced by Uprobes in the long term, and various changes that will be part of Linux 3.2. Changes include a major update of the Nouveau DRM/KMS driver that adds code for addressing the NVCF and NVD9 graphics chips, improving the distribution's support for recent GeForce graphics chips. However, the Fedora developers haven't compiled most of the staging drivers; they have even skipped Broadcom's open source Wi-Fi driver, which will leave the staging area with Linux 3.2.
The graphical user interface is handled by X.org's X Server 1.11.1, which uses components such as the current Mesa 3D 7.11 to provide 3D support. Fedora has chosen developer versions of the Radeon and Nouveau open source graphics drivers to improve its support for current graphics hardware. As usual, the purely open source Fedora doesn't include any proprietary drivers; however, the distribution does include non-open-source firmware without which many modern hardware components wouldn't function.
NVIDIA's proprietary graphics driver can be installed from repositories such as RPM Fusion that are tailored to Fedora and that also offer an appropriate selection of packages for playing back widely used, but patent-protected audio and video formats. However, setting up the NVIDIA drivers is far less convenient than it is, for example, in Ubuntu, and updates frequently struggle with the repository's graphics drivers. The latest version of AMD's proprietary graphics drivers doesn't work with the X Server used in Fedora 16.
Fedora's default filesystem continues to be Ext4; the developers contemplated switching to Btrfs but have postponed the switch until Fedora 17 because an improved program for checking and repairing Btrfs drives wasn't completed in time. As with previous versions of Fedora, however, the installer is capable of setting up Btrfs drives.
Extended and updated
Although the Fedora developers continually integrate new and improved software into the package repositories of the current version and of future versions that are in progress, in the Fedora 16 documentation they have highlighted various applications as new additions: these include the Cuneiform OCR software, the Ease presentation software that was developed for GNOME, and the Hotot micro-blogging application; they also mention the Routino route planner, which accesses OpenStreetMap data, and the Oo2gd add-on for LibreOffice, which exports documents to Google Docs.
As usual, the developers have also updated software that has long been a part of Fedora – for example, the distribution now includes version 2.59 of Blender and version 3.4.3 of LibreOffice. Fedora 16's VNC software is TigerVNC 1.1, which the Fedora developers have enhanced to allow an encrypted transfer of image data with the help of TLS.
For developers, the distribution now offers tools for ADA and D2 programming. Perl has been updated to version 5.14.1 and Boost has also been updated by the Fedora project. A GCC plug-in now allows developers to invoke Python scripts while running the GNU Compiler Collection; such scripts can, for instance, perform custom code checks and issue alerts when they detect problems.
Virtualisation and clouds
Fedora 16 has now regained all the components for implementing a Xen host; this functionality was last available in Fedora 8, which was released four years ago. In its successor, Fedora focused fully on KVM, after the Dom0 code hadn't proven suitable for the latest kernel versions that were being released, and the Fedora developers grew tired of porting the Xen code to newer kernel versions themselves. This problem also affected many other distributors, and the Xen developers finally fixed most of it in Linux 3.0, which offers all the components required for Dom0 operation but doesn't yet contain the full functionality of the previous Xen development line.
The main article contains many links to web pages with background information on Fedora 16. Further information can be found on the project's home page, in the Fedora wiki and on a web site dedicated to documentation. The latter contains such documents as the version's full release notes and installation guide. A short overview of the new features is available on the wiki's Talking Points and release announcement pages. The wiki also offers a list of common F16 bugs which the developers will probably add to over the coming days.
VirtualBox is not included in Verne. KVM continues to be the chosen virtualisation solution and has been improved in several ways. Improvements include the USB Network Redirection feature, which enables computers to use USB devices through the network and is designed to allow guest systems to address USB hardware that is connected to the host. Fedora 16 includes version 0.10 of Spice, a protocol that is relevant for sharing a virtual machine's desktop interface with remote workstations; this version supports the sharing of USB devices between clients and remote guest systems and offers the "XSpice" X Server.
Version 0.15 of Qemu is being used. The Fedora developers say that they have improved the network configuration of virt-manager, which can now detect guest systems and offers functions for displaying a guest's filesystem or Windows registry that is contained in it. The tool now uses a lock manager to prevent multiple virtual machines from adding a disk or image at the same time.
Various new cloud features are a reminder that Fedora is used for field-testing technologies that are predominantly relevant to corporate customers who run the Fedora-based Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). For example, Fedora 16 is the first to include the Aeolus Conductor cross-cloud IaaS platform management software (feature page, home page) as well as the Condor and Deltacloud-based Condor Cloud IaaS cloud implementation (feature page, short description). Also new is HekaFS, a "cloud ready" version of GlusterFS. Its makers have recently been bought by Red Hat – how this step will impact the future of HekaFS is currently still unclear. The enhancements for "cloud computing" include the Matahari monitoring and management software (feature page, home page) as well as pacemaker-cloud, a project that aims at providing application service high availability (HA) in a cloud environment (features page, home page). OpenStack (feature page, home page) is also included. Some of these components will, sooner or later, also show up in Red Hat Enterprise Linux or in products that surround this distribution.