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Desktop

As usual, the Fedora developers have integrated the latest version of GNOME: version 2.30, which was released in March. This version is currently scheduled to be the last in series 2; at the moment, the developers are discussing making the switch to GNOME 3 in Fedora 14, which is expected in the autumn. The GNOME Shell -- one of the main components of the next generation of GNOME – was integrated into Fedora for testing quite a while ago; in Fedora 13, it is already quite robust and almost ready for everyday use.

The KDE version included is 4.4.2, and it uses Qt 4.6 – the recently released KDE 4.4.3 is already available as a test update and will probably soon be deployed as a regular update. In Fedora 13, the KDE desktop environment supports PolicyKit One and offers substantially improved PulseAudio integration.

On demand

For some time, the PackageKit tool recent Fedora releases have used for installing and updating software has been capable of installing the GStreamer plug-in semi-automatically if an audio or video player requires it for playing a file. A similar mechanism is now used by the system-config-printer printer configuration program, which was developed for Fedora and has since also been integrated into Ubuntu and other distributions. This will request printer drivers from Fedora's package repositories when a user connects a printer for which no suitable driver can be located on disk. As a result, the number of printers supported by Fedora has not increased – but the standard installation and Spins no longer have to include all the printer drivers available, which, especially with CD Spins, leaves more room for important components required by a greater number of users. Furthermore, the new technology increases the likelihood that a printer uses not just any, but the best printer driver available in Fedora.

Originally, Fedora 13 was also supposed to semi-automatically install language support packages when a user selects a language for which no dictionaries and translations have been installed – however, this feature wasn't ready in time and is now planned to be integrated in a future version of Fedora.

Input and output

Having worked to optimise the distribution's webcam drivers and infrastructure in the three versions that preceded Fedora 13, Fedora developer Hans de Goede has made further efforts in this area. This time, he focused on improving the code for "dual mode cameras" – photo cameras which can also be used as a webcam. Most of the improvements have already been integrated into recent Linux kernels and other software so that the users of other distributions can benefit from them as well.

Red Hat developer Richard Hughes, who has already made a name for himself with his contributions to HAL and PackageKit, has developed the gnome-color-manager and integrated it into Fedora 13. The colour manager allows users to install, manage and create ICC and ICM colour profiles for printers, monitors and scanners so that the truest possible image colours can be rendered and colour distortions avoided when editing images.

Connections

The Virt-Manager now allows ethernet bridges to be set up, which makes guest systems act like real systems in a network. Although configuring a bridge was previously possible, it required a lot more effort.

The NMCli program allows some features of the NetworkManager, whose development is mainly driven by a member of the Red Hat/Fedora team, to be controlled via the command line. For mobile network connections, provided that it is supported by the hardware and drivers, the NetworkManager applet now displays the signal strength and transmission technology (GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSPA, ...) as well as the relevant roaming information. With Bluetooth Personal Area Networking (PAN) having been introduced in Fedora 12, the NetworkManager in Fedora 13 now also offers internet connectivity via Bluetooth Dial-Up Networking (DUN).

Although boot.fedoraproject.org is not a direct component of Fedora 13, it si listed as a feature of this version. This is a server the Fedora project has set up for booting via the network. It can be used for installing various versions of Fedora with boot media that are only 270 KBytes in size. The server works in a similar way to the BKO service boot.kernel.org has offered since last autumn. Like its predecessors, however, Fedora 13 can also be installed via the internet of from a local server using the traditional installer or its lean netboot variant.

Next: Virtualisation, Core matters

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