Fedora 16 Goes Exploring With Verne

by Sean Kerner

New Linux release embraces OpenStack and improved GNOME desktop.

The Red Hat sponsored Fedora Project is out with a new release today advancing Linux in the cloud, server and desktop markets.

Fedora 16 is codenamed Verne, although the release has been dedicated to Dennis Ritchie, creator of the C language, who recently passed away. Fedora Project Leader Jared Smith, told InternetNews.com that Fedora 16 refines and adds a number of cloud computing and virtualization tools.

"The new Aeolus Conductor is a web-based platform for managing virtual machines either in your own private cloud or in the various public clouds that are out there," Smith said. "It makes it very easy to get up and running with cloud computing no matter who you are doing cloud computing with, so you don't get tied down to one particular vendor's tools."

Fedora 16 also includes the open source OpenStack cloud platform, which some industry pundits have seen as being a competitive technology to Fedora's Red Hat sponsor. Smith noted that in the case of Fedora, OpenStack is not a competitor with Aeolus.

"Aeolous and Open Stack are not competitive at all," Smith said. "The idea with OpenStack is to have a set of tools that help you build your own cloud, while Aeolus provides tools to help you manage virtual machine in an OpenStack cloud or an Amazon cloud or an IBM cloud. To say they are competitive with each other is an apples and oranges comparison."

For virtual machine control, Fedora 16 also provides a new locking mechanism for virtual disks. According to Fedora's feature specs, the new virtual machine lock manager provides protection against starting the same virtual machine twice, or adding the same disk to two different virtual machines.

"Locking is always a tricky thing, making sure the different things don't step on each other," Smith said. "In mission-critical systems you wouldn't want the same disk image to be added to two different virtual machines, so you can understand why this might be important to have."

From a filesystem perspective, Fedora 16 includes the HekaFS systems that was formerly known as CloudFS. HekaFS is built on top of the open source GlusterFS filesysem, providing a cloud-ready filesystem. Red Hat acquired Gluster Inc for $136 million in October of this year. Smith noted that the HekaFS enhancements were begun well before Red Hat bought the Gluster company.

"HekaFS is an extension to GlusterFS specifically looking at cloud storage features adding strong authentication and authorization as well as encryption," Smith said. "It also provides additional multi-tenancy, but it's all based on the underlying GlusterFS."

The Fedora 16 release also continues to expand on work that debuted in the Fedora 15 release in May.

"One of the things that happened in Fedora 15 is we moved to the Systemd initialization system but we were still using mostly legacy SystemV scripts in a compatibility mode," Smith said. "We've now moved most of the core daemons over to systemd, so we get better performance on boot-up and parallelized start-up of daemons."

On the desktop, Fedora 16 marks the debut of the GNOME 3.2 desktop, which benefits from additional optimization over the GNOME 3 desktop that came with Fedora 15.

"I think the GNOME team did a great job of listening to the feedback they got to the 3.0 release," Smith said. "The new contacts and documents tools are nice additions."

Fedora also provides support for other desktops including KDE, LXDE and Xfce. Smith noted that although there has been some opposition to GNOME 3, overall Fedora is seeing an uptick in the usage of all flavors of the Linux desktop.

"We've seen all of our downloads increase in the Fedora 15 time frame so it's hard to say what percentage of people are abandoning GNOME to go to other desktops," Smith said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Nov 8th 2011
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