March 21, 2006 6:27 PM PST
Red Hat's Fedora 5 boosts desktop features
Fedora is a proving ground for features later incorporated into the premium Red Hat Enterprise Linux product. It's also designed to satisfy many Linux fans' appetite for newer features and involve Red Hat outsiders directly in programming and testing.
For those with advanced graphics abilities, Fedora Core 5 includes support for Accelerated Indirect GL X, which adds 3D effects to the user interface. However, an inadvertent bug meant it was impossible to use proprietary 3D graphic chip drivers from Nvidia and ATI, so for most users, an updated kernel must be downloaded for the fastest graphics.
The new version was released as Microsoft delayed its Vista version of Windows again--this time until January 2007. However, Windows still dominates the desktop computer market, despite years of Linux fans trying to make their products more polished and easy to use.
Another graphics feature in the release is Cairo, a library that Firefox and other applications can employ for drawing 2D graphics based on vectors rather than bitmaps.
Deeper in the graphics subsystem, the new version includes Xorg 7.0, which unlike its predecessors breaks up software components into independent modules in an attempt to let programmers make improvements more quickly.
Novell, whose OpenSuse project competes with Fedora for developer attention, has a different approach to Linux eye candy called XglL. Red Hat believes its approach is less disruptive.
However, Red Hat did adopt some technology from its rival: Mono, an open-source version of some key parts of Microsoft's .Net software. Three Mono-based applications in Fedora Core 5 include Beagle for desktop search, F-Spot for photo management and Tomboy for taking notes.
Other utility changes came with updates to the Gnome power manager and screensaver modules. Version 0.10 of the GStreamer library is incorporated as a foundation for applications such as media players or video editors.
For server users, Fedora Core 5 upgrades database software packages MySQL to version 5.0 and PostgreSQL to 8.1, and the Apache Web server to version 2.2. The software includes new management tools to run Xen, "hypervisor" software for running multiple operating systems at the same time.
At its deepest level, the software is based on version 2.6.16 of the Linux kernel.
Various Fedora Core 6 project ideas are listed at the Fedora Project Web site.
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