Fedora 11 beta released
A week later than originally scheduled, the Fedora Project has made the first and only beta version of the Fedora 11 Linux distribution, codename Leonidas, available to download, completing the main development phase for the forthcoming release.
One of the most important new features is support for kernel-based mode setting on Intel graphics chips. This gives the kernel more control over the GPU and relieves X Server of some of its functions, which should resolve various problems and restrictions relating to the control of graphics hardware on Linux systems. The beta version also includes KMS support for some Nvidia chips, though this is by default deactivated. When Fedora 10 was released last November, Radeon GPUs where the only GPUs for which the kernel offered KMS support.
The kernel for the beta is based on a pre-release version of the recently released Linux version 2.6.29. In a change to the original plan, the 32 bit x86 version of Fedora 11 will not install an x86-64 kernel where it detects a 64 bit x86 CPU. Although Fedora 11 will, as planned, use Ext4, the Ext3 successor, as its default file system. The Fedora development team have, however, incorporated some of the changes to Ext4 planned for Linux version 2.6.30 in order to reduce the risk of data loss through delayed allocation.
Available desktops include KDE 4.2.1 and Xfce 4.6.0, as well as a pre-release version of the recently released GNOME 2.26. Beta versions of Firefox 3.5, Thunderbird 3.0 and OpenOffice 3.1 are also included. As compiler, the Fedora 11 beta uses a pre-release version of GCC 4.4, which recently came a step closer to completion with the creation of the 4.4 release branch.
Other new features
- Faster start-up
- Automatic as needed installation of applications and fonts
- Switch to DeviceKit, which replaces HAL in some areas
- Support for fingerprint sensors for authentication
- Switch to Nouveau drivers for Nvidia GPUs
- Enhancements to power management
- Simplified volume control
- Improved control of virtual machines
- Cross compiler for Windows
- X Server 1.6 including DRI2
The beta release concludes the main development phase for Fedora 11, with the development team now concentrating on ensuring that the new features are properly mature, rather than introducing further major changes.
Like the preview release, scheduled for late April, and Fedora 11 itself, scheduled for late May, the beta represents a snapshot of the Rawhide development branch, which is updated daily. Updates for hundreds of packages have been incorporated into this branch since the beta was put together, and these are available as updates for the beta version. These include the final version of Linux 2.6.29, Gnome 2.26 and a later snapshot of Firefox 3.5.
Fedora server break-in
Fedora Project Leader Paul W. Frields yesterday disclosed further details of what exactly happened during last summer's intrusion into a number of Fedora servers used for signing packages (1, 2, 3). Apparently the intrusion was not through a security vulnerability in one of the applications on the server, but rather was carried out using a stolen copy of a private key providing SSH access to the server, which had not been protected using a pass phrase. Stricter security guidelines for Fedora developers with SSH access to the servers should prevent any such intrusion in future.