Monday, July 16, 2007

Proposed Fedora 8 Features

Source: Fedora 8 Proposed Features

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Fedora 8 is currently under development and is scheduled for release in November of this year (2007). This is a quick overview of the proposed features. As these are proposed features and as it is still about 4 months from release some of these will change.

Better Startup Graphical, smooth and polished startup

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This first feature is to bling up the boot sequence. Currently the boot sequence is a mix of text and graphical modes and doesn't look as professional as some of the other competing OS's logins. (Mac OSX, Windows, Ubuntu) This features calls for the hiding of some current boot up graphics such as the GRUB menu and ensuring that there is only one mode switch between text and graphical boot. This will help make the fedora (and the next RHEL) boot up slicker and adds a more professional image to the OS.

Bigboard Replacement for GNOME panel that uses online services via mugshot

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This next feature is about integrating the Mugshot Online Desktop Project's bigboard application. Bigboard is basically a sidebar for linux that partially replaces some of the top and bottom panel's functionality but with "greater emphasis to personalization, search, presence and contacts, and documents."

Codec Buddy Helper app promotes Free alternatives and guides users trying to play content under restricted codecs

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This is a similar feature to Ubuntu's automatic codec install. When a user tries to play an audio or video file with an uninstalled codec this feature will ask the user if they would like to install the relevant codec. It will also warn the user about illegal use of codecs and will try to educate the user. This is different from Ubuntu's auto codec install as it will recommend the purchase of Fluendo's gstreamer codecs, where as Ubuntu will install the "free" codecs after the user acknowledges that the codecs are illegal in some countries and should not be installed there. This feature will help with usability as often users are confused when they cannot play their audio or video files. This also goes along with Fedora's commitment to a completely free OS as they are pushing the completely legal alternative first.

KDE4 Integrating KDE 4.0, a new major version of KDE

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Not much has to be said about this feature as it explains itself. KDE 4 is going to be released in October and Fedora would like to incorporate it as the default KDE version into their 8th release. They are working hard on this feature as KDE 4 is highly desired and with the expected release of Fedora in November it will be one of the first distros to completely incorporate KDE 4. The Fedora developers are also working hard on ensuring compatibility with existing KDE 3 applications by shipping a full set of compatibility libraries.

NetworkManager System wide default network manager integration

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This is another feature that Ubuntu currently has. Fedora would like to integrate NetworkManager as the default network configuration method. NetworkManager was started by Red Hat and currently the easiest way to manage wireless networks. It is ideally suited for laptops with wireless cards. It also has plugins for different VPN implementations making it easy to use a VPN. The current weaknesses of the implementation is in the server market or with managing multiple network devices. Also there isn't any easy method to manage the networks without a GUI. Fedora is working on these issues and is hoping to implement NetworkManager as the default and only network manager for Fedora 8.

PolicyKit Easy and painless administration

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"PolicyKit provides a flexible framework for granting users access to privileged operations." This will help integrate the various ways distros allow desktop users to preform privileged operations. PolicyKit is completely integrated with HAL and DBUS and will provide a cutting edge desktop-environment agnostic method of securing the desktop. PolicyKit will also fix some implementation flaws of current methods of providing privileged operations to desktop users. (such as running X applications as root)

PulseAudio Feature rich sound server

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This is one of the most exciting features slated for inclusion in Fedora 8. PulseAudio is a sound server, which provides for network abstraction for sound. It also provides for full mixing of multiple audio streams and can be used to preform various effects on sound. PulseAudio allows for application independent volume control and also will allow any sound source or output to be shared or mixed over a network. For example with PulseAudio you can have Rhythmbox running of one computer but play the audio over the soundcard of a different computer on the network. It also will work for input allowing for a microphone input on one computer to be used on a different computer. This feature will bring the audio side of the linux desktop into the 21st century and will compliment the advanced visual effects available with Compiz and Compiz Fusion.

Presto Using delta RPM updates by default. Saves heavy amount of bandwidth and time for updates.

This is also an exciting new feature. Presto is a plugin for Yum to allow for the use of deltaRPM's to be downloaded instead of the full RPM's when updating. The current method of updating requires the full packages to be downloaded, this requires a lot of bandwith and often is not required as only a few files in the RPM package are changed. DeltaRPM's are much smaller as they only contain the differences between the two different packages. Currently there isn't an easy way to make use of these deltaRPM's and Presto hopes to change this. By using this plugin the bandwith required by a user to update is greatly decreased this will benefit the users with slow connections and will also decrease the infrastructure required to host a Fedora update mirror.

VirtSecurity Secure remote mangement for Xen, KVM & QEMU virtualization

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Currently in Fedora 7 and RHEL 5 their is no secure remote management of installed VM's. This feature will incorporate full TLS for all communication between the VM and the management applications. It also incorporates secure migration of guests across hosts.

Bookmarks Fedora 8 Bookmarks

This is a very basic feature that just states which bookmarks should be default in Firefox with Fedora 8.

TexLive TeXLive 2007 inclusion

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The current teTeX TeX distribution is no longer actively maintained and TeXLive is the new recommended TeX distribution. Debian and Ubuntu already are shipping TeXLive and this is a natural choice for any distribution that ships TeX.

Rsyslog New default syslog daemon

This feature calls for the inclusion of Rsyslog as a replacement for sysklogd. The sysklogd upstream is dead and also is missing a lot of requested features. Rsyslog has full security for logging (an often requested feature for sysklogd) and also can log to a MySQL database. Sysklogd is an ancient implmentation of the syslog functionality and is missing many requested features so upgrading is a no-brainer. There are several syslog replacements but Rsyslog is fully backwards compliant and provides most of the requested features and has an active upstream.

No More XFS Don't start XFS font server daemon by default and fix font packages. Savings on performance and bootup time.

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This feature would like to disable the x font server that is currently enabled by default in all installations. The two main reasons are it will accelerate the bootup process and that the use of an x font server is not required for most installations. This is almost a no brainier but needs some testing to ensure that this will achieve the desired results. Also this will require checking all programs that make use of the xfs to ensure they use the local fonts.

XULrunner Use and integrate XULRunner which is the Gecko browser engine separated from the user interface.

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Currently many applications depend upon Firefox just to make use of it's gecko rendering engine. XULrunner is a Mozilla project to separate the common features of Firefox, Thunderbird, Seamonkey, and any other gecko powered application into a separate program to make maintenance easier and to reduce duplication of code and functionality throughout their projects. This will require changes to many applications so that they use XULrunner instead of their own embedded gecko implementation. This will also increase security as if there is a vulnerability in the gecko engine it will be fixed in all programs that make use of it. This is another no-brainier as all distributions will eventually have to implement and the benefits are many.

Laptop Improvements Improved support for using Fedora on Laptops.

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This last proposed feature is a blanket feature to improve the Fedora experience on a laptop. This is basically just a improvement to the suspend/resume support and the special keyboard keys that are often on laptops. It also would like to see an improvement in battery life to the previous Fedora release.

So, that is a rundown of the features in the works for the next fedora release. Please check out the wiki pages for more details and future changes.