The Red Hat sponsored Fedora Linux distribution is out today with its second release of 2010. Fedora 14, codenamed "Laughlin," introduces new security, virtualization and developer features as well as the first Fedora release for the Amazon EC2 cloud in years.
Fedora release comes as Red Hat is gearing up for the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 and the company continues to push forward on cloud foundation technologies.
"Due to technical reasons, this is the first release since Fedora 8 that has been able to run on Amazon's infrastructure," Jared Smith, Fedora Project Leader told InternetNews.com. "It's also an example of where a group of Fedora community members got together and formed a Special Interest Group (SIG) within Fedora and they started working on this as a goal. It was very much an organic community that grew out of Fedora."
Smith said that the cloud SIG is seeking to build better support for cloud inside of Fedora as a whole. Though Red Hat has numerous cloud initiatives, Fedora is its own separate project and doesn't always directly benefit from Red Hat's corporate cloud initiatives.
"Some Red Hat employees stepped up to the plate, but most of it was because they wanted to help out with the cloud SIG," Smith said. "As far as I know, there was no organized effort within Red Hat to try and tackle cloud inside of Fedora. That's one of the things I look forward to in the next cycle is seeing if we can get more communication between the cloud team at Red Hat and the cloud SIG at Fedora."
With the new Amazon EC2 support for Fedora 14, Red Hat isn't taking any sort of commercial model to market for their community Linux either.
"It's just about availability to have the same type of image that you can download on DVD and install on release day, to have the ability to have the same bits and bytes out in the cloud," Smith said. There is no support model and there is no revenue stream. This is just giving folks another way of using their favorite Fedora release."
For Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat offers commercial support and subscriptions for Amazon EC2 cloud based deployments. Rival Linux distributions, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) and Canonical's Ubuntu Linux also have Amazon EC2 support options.
The Spice of Desktop Virtualization
One of the new desktop-facing features that Fedora 14 is introducing is the Spice (Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments) virtualization technology. Red Hat acquired the Spice technology as part of its acquisition of Qumranet in 2008.
"People are interested in the concept of desktop virtualization, it's an emerging technology that isn't mainstream yet," Smith said. "There does seem to be a lot of interest for corporate desktop deployments as virtualization offers some interesting advantages."
Smith noted that Spice isn't a finished product yet and more work is still going into the project. On the commercial side, Red Hat has its Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) products which include management technologies for virtual desktops. It's not clear when or if those technologies will emerge in Fedora for a future release.
"I would love to see those sorts of tools and I don't know if it would be done inside of tools like virt-manager or as a separate tool," Smith said. "It's something I'd like to see but I don't know the exact plans that the Spice folks have for management."
New Security Framework Debuts
Fedora 14 also marks the debut of the OpenSCAP technology. OpenSCAP, is an open source implementation of the Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) framework for creating a standardized approach for maintaining secure systems.
OpenSCAP leverages multiple security standards and services including Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE), Open Vulnerability and Assessment Language (OVAL) and the Extensible Checklist Configuration Description Format (XCCDF) to audit and ensure that systems are compliant with security policies and standards.
Fedora 15: What Lies Ahead
Looking ahead to the next Fedora release, Smith already has some idea as to what he expects to see. One such feature set for the Fedora 15 release is the systemd initialization system.
Another big ticket item Smith expects to be ready for Fedora 15 is the GNOME 3 Linux desktop and its GNOME Shell user interface which is still in active development.
"We have a technology preview of GNOME Shell in Fedora 14, but it's something that will likely be the default in Fedora 15," Smith said.