The beta release of Fedora 14 is available for download, Red Hat Release Engineer Dennis Gilmore said in an e-mail to the Fedora developer mailing list on Sept. 28.
"Mark your calendars, and get ready to break out and have some fun: Fedora 14 will launch in early November," Gilmore wrote. The beta is the distribution's last development build before its official release
The Fedora 14 "Laughlin" release features the SPICE (Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments) framework, a tool for creating virtual desktops. SPICE offers encryption, accelerates two-dimensional graphics, supports audio playback and recording, and detects video with MJPEG streaming within a virtual environment. The framework also comes with a library of X Windows, Windows XP, Windows Live and Windows 7 drivers.
Fedora 14 is based on the Linux Kernel 2.6.35, which provides direct I/O support for btrfs (b-tree file system) graphic stacks improvements and the ability to spread incoming network loads across CPUs. Ubuntu's current beta, Maverick Maven, is also on the same kernel.
The distribution has updates for several programming languages, including support for D, Python 2.7 and Perl 5.12. Rakudo Star, an early implementation of the Perl 6 specification, is also included.
System admins can look forward to extended utilities for remote or powered-off management of servers using the IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) protocol.
The Fedora Engineering Steering Committee met on Sept. 14 and decided to remove the next-generation systemd session management as default from Fedora 14 "to give more time to fix small issues and docs and general polish." Instead, Fedora 14 will return to the Upstart and SystemV init defaults.
Testing will continue with systemd, which offers faster startup and on-demand loading and unloading of services, to be included in Fedora 15, expected in April or May 2011. The beta includes a tech preview of systemd for administrators interested in checking out the tool.
Laughlin includes KDE's Plasma Desktop 4.5 and GNOME Desktop 2.32, and offers alternative environments such as Sugar and MeeGo, a visually rich netbook user interface from a project jointly sponsored by Intel and Nokia.
Developers can expect enhanced and improved graphics handling, such as JPEG compression and decompression for faster loading and saving of images. During a Fedora Graphics Test Week, testers and beta users are encouraged to focus on video driver support. Sept. 28 testing will focus on the open-source Nouveau driver for Nvidia chips, Sept. 29 testing on Radeon hardware and Sept. 30 testing on Intel GPUs.
There are 20 new features in Laughlin, which is about half the number of new features that were in Fedora 12 ("Constantine") and 13 ("Goddard"). Removing systemd contributed to the much smaller list of new features.
The beta's features are mostly complete and only critical bug fixes will be pushed as updates before the general release.
Fedora 14 is named after Nobel Laureate and physicist Robert Laughlin, professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University. The members of The Fedora Project, a worldwide community of more than 20,000 collaborators, selected the code name by popular vote.