The big issues in the world of Linux right now are the Gnome3 desktop interface and Ubuntu’s pending Natty release which will use the Unity desktop interface by default. The tried and tested Gnome2 desktop is finally making way for a new generation of desktop effects and most users will find the change jarringly different.
But, while Gnome and Ubuntu take flak and fight their corner, Fedora, the Red Hat-backed community release, is taking the changes head-on. This week the project’s developers released Fedora 15 beta, the final testing release before its eventual end-of-May release, which has completely integrated the new Gnome3 desktop into the release.
Not all users will be pleased with the changes that this means for Fedora but the developers have done their utmost to make the transition as easy as possible.
Fedora has for some time lived in the shadow of Ubuntu but has proven time and again that it is ready to take the big steps forward needed to make Linux better. It regularly ships with software that many other distributions are still contemplating.
This Fedora 15 release is more of the same.
Fedora 15 includes, by default, the Gnome3 desktop which introduces the Gnome Shell as the new metaphor for managing desktop applications and windows. Fedora developers have done such a good job of integrating Gnome3 into the desktop that the Gnome project itself uses the release to demonstrate the new features of Gnome3.
Also new in this Fedora release is LibreOffice. LibreOffice is a fork of the OpenOffice.org open source office suite which is now controlled by Oracle following its purchase of Sun Microsystems. Oracle has said that it will be handing over OpenOffice.org to a community organisation for further development but by now most Linux distributions have already begun the migration to LibreOffice.
Although Fedora uses the Gnome3 desktop as the default it does also include an array of other options, including XFCE and LXDE, two lightweight desktop environments that still use the traditional desktop metaphor. Fedora 15 also includes KDE, the other popular desktop environment that itself went through a significant overhaul a few years back.
The list of Fedora 15 features is extensive and the other highlights include a dynamic firewall that makes it possible to change settings without needing a restart, BoxGrinder for creating virtual appliance images, as well as a long list of developer tools.
The final stable release of Fedora 15 is planned for May 24. The current beta version can be downloaded from the Fedora site.