REVIEW: Fedora 11 provides a sneak peak at what's coming in the more staid and stable Red Hat Enterprise Linux. During tests, eWEEK Labs found that the biggest improvements in Fedora 11 come in the area of virtualization, although Fedora still lags systems from VMware in functionality and polish. Fedora will also serve well in desktop roles, but will need more care and feeding than other desktop Linux distros.
The most recent version of Fedora, Red Hat's cutting-edge Linux
distribution, provides users of Red Hat's more staid and stable Red Hat
Enterprise Linux an early look at what's to come in their operating
system of choice.
In addition to serving as sort of a Linux technology preview, Fedora
11 can itself serve in a full gamut of Linux roles--as long as
Fedora-embracing users are prepared for the upgrade and bug mitigation
that can accompany the use of such a fast-paced distribution.
Organizations in search of a freely available Linux server for
production roles would do best to steer toward CentOS, which tracks
RHEL and benefits from the bug-squashing efforts of the Fedora vanguard.
In my tests of Fedora 11, the biggest improvements were in the area
of virtualization, with the Red Hat-led toolset around creating,
accessing and managing virtual machines across multiple hosts
continuing to mature.
As a virtualization server, Fedora still lags behind proprietary
options such as those from VMware in functionality and polish. However,
the fast clip at which Fedora's tools are progressing bodes well for
the next major RHEL version.
Fedora 11 can also serve well in desktop roles, as it includes the
latest and greatest of desktop-oriented open-source software, including
Version 2.26.1 of the GNOME desktop environment, Version 3.1 of the
OpenOffice.org productivity suite and Version 3.5 Beta 4 of the Firefox
Again, though, Fedora 11 will fit best on the desktops of users who
are prepared to give it a bit more love and attention than might be
required with other Linux options. In particular, I found that the
catalog of ready-to-install applications available for Fedora 11
doesn't match what's available to Ubuntu or OpenSUSE users.
The distribution is likely best suited for development-savvy desktop
users who can take advantage of the various up-to-date integrated
development environments and complementary tools that ship with the
system. Fedora 11 comes with NetBeans 6.5 and Eclipse 3.4.2 (both of
which depend on Sun's open-sourced Java OpenJDK project), as well as
Version 2.0 of the MonoDevelop C# IDE and Version 4.3.3 of the Eric
Fedora 11 is available for free download from
http://fedoraproject.org/get-fedora, with separate versions that
support the x86, x86-64 and PowerPC platforms. I tested the x86 version
of Fedora 11 on a Lenovo ThinkPad T60 and on virtual machines running
under Fedora 11's implementation of the Linux KVM (Kernel Virtual
The x86 and x86-64 versions are available as DVD or CD images that
comprise the entire distributions, as well as in Live CD images that
may be used to try out Fedora without modifying your hard drive.
Fedora's default desktop environment is GNOME, but there are
"respin" versions of Fedora based on the KDE desktop, among other
custom versions centered on hardware design, scientific computing,
games and other software themes.
Fedora 11 also includes a feature called Presto, which enables the
system to consume software updates by fetching delta packages
containing only changed bits. Novell's SUSE Linux distributions have
offered this feature, which can speed update operations significantly,
for some time now, and I was pleased to see Fedora adopt it.
As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. Jason's coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at email@example.com.