The Joy of Betas: Fedora 13 Beta Released Today
"Beta" may not be my favorite word in the English language, but it's in the top 100. To some folks, beta may mean "not quite ready for prime time," but to me it means it's time to start enjoying a slew of new features. This is especially true with the Fedora 13 beta released today.
Fedora 13, also known as "Goddard," comes packed with a bunch of new features that are going to benefit not only Fedora users, but most Linux users no matter what distribution they're using. For example, F13 offers Zarafa -- a groupware offering that's meant to be a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Exchange. Testing in Fedora will help everybody using Zarafa, not just the Fedora community.
Naturally, F13 brings a bunch of updates to the old favorites: GNOME, Firefox, the Linux kernel, KDE, and many others. It also includes a slew of new features I'm looking forward to trying like better Webcam support and the ability to control NetworkManager through the command line. Though it won't be visible to many users, F13 is also delivering features that will make it easier to debug Python. The feature list is actually quite hefty.
Fedora is an especially good distro to keep an eye on to get a sense what's coming for enterprise Linux systems. Fedora 13 boasts System Security Services Daemon to allow advanced management of login/authentication data. Fedora 13 also includes rollback features based on the btrfs filesystem. Developers can snapshot their system prior to installing packages via Yum, and then roll the system back to the prior state if the update goes badly. This is really nice for Fedora developers working on Rawhide (the unstable development distribution) but could eventually be used for system recovery in a lot of scenarios.
Though not exactly a part of Fedora 13, users can get a look at boot.fedora.org, which is a method similar to PXE for bootstrapping a machine. Users can try out the gPXE images for Fedora 13 to test this. At some point, most of these technologies are likely to be important to enterprise Linux.
The final release isn't expected until May, but the beta should be solid enough for testing and to get a preview of what the final release will look like. It's also an excellent time for users to help out by testing the release and reporting any bugs they run into. Want to grab Fedora 13 beta? The release is available via direct download, BitTorrent, Jigdo, and gPXE images for boot.fedora.org. You'll find the DVD install media as well as live CDs for GNOME and KDE, though the beta images are too large to fit on a standard CD right now, but will be slimmed down by final release.