December Linux fun

Traditionally, the last few months of the year are filled with new Linux releases. This year is no exception and here we take a look at recent releases and some planned for early 2012.

Ubuntu 11.10

Kicking off the year-end release cycle was Ubuntu 11.10 in mid-October. Also known as Oneiric Ocelot, Ubuntu 11.10 for the first time adopted Unity as the new default desktop environment. The interface is noticeably better than that in the 11.04 release but is still struggling to find traction among the Ubuntu faithful.

Ocelot also features a new, and more attractive, login screen. Once logged in Ocelot has a number of new default applications including Firefox 7, Thunderbird for email, Shotwell for picture management and the Banshee music player. The Ubuntu Software Centre has also had a major facelift making it easier to find software and recommendations.

Fedora 16

Fedora 16, the latest version of the popular community-built operating system was released on 8 November. Much of the code in Fedora is later used in the commercial Red Hat releases and is usually among the most experimental of the Linux releases.

On the desktop, Fedora offers Gnome 3.2 and KDE 4.7. Although its desktop options are attractive, the real appeal of Fedora 16 is its extensive virtualisation options, which include KVM, better support for Xen and Qemu. As a testbed for Red Hat releases, Fedora is strongly focused on corporate users.

OpenSuse 12.1

OpenSuse 12.1 was released in mid-November and, as usual, has a bucket load of changes. On the desktop OpenSuse 12.1 offers a choice of Gnome 3.2 or KDE 4.7. Under the hood OpenSuse includes support for the newer Btrfs filesystem, though the Ext4 system remains the default for now.

Like Ubuntu, OpenSuse’s default browser is Firefox 7 but it chose Amarok over Banshee as its default media player. SaX, OpenSuse’s display administration tool, also makes a welcome return in this release. SaX2 was retired previously because of major X Window changes but now SaX3 is included and, although not as full featured as SaX2 was, looks very promising.

FreeBSD 9.0

FreeBSD is not as popular as Linux, but the two are soulmates in the world of Unix-like operating systems. The latest release of FreeBSD, version 9.0, is expected to be released on 7 December. The final preview release was issued on 28 November. FreeBSD 9.0 is still in development but already includes updates for the ZFS filesystem, USB 3.0, the new Clang/LLVM compiler and better networking support.

Mageia 2 beta

Mageia is a relatively new name in the world of Linux and is a fork of the popular Mandriva Linux distribution. Formed in September 2010, Mageia’s first release was in June this year. The second release of this promising new distribution is planned for May 2012 but the first beta release will be out in the second half of February. For the very adventurous, the second alpha release of Mageia 2 is planned for 14 December.

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December Linux fun