Red Hat Fedora team leader Max Spevack said with Fedora Core 6, IT administrators will now have the ability to specify external third-party package repositories at installation time, in addition to local or specific network locations. The external packages include the Fedora Extras repository, which houses packages not distributed with the base distribution. Extra packages are generally obtained online and can be downloaded with yum -- an open source command line package management utility -- or other package management software.
The Fedora community has also been working on boosting the performance and shortening start-up times for notable open source applications like OpenOffice.org, said Spevack. Start-up times improved thanks to a rebuild with DT_GNU_HASH, which is optimized for speed and data cache accesses.
Another new feature is a GUI-based virtualization manager, which has been designed to streamline the process of managing virtual servers running Fedora Core. X86 server virtualization was built into Fedora Core in version 5.0.
Virtualization has been an up-front topic at Red Hat this year as the company has sought to include Xen in its flagship product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The functionality has been tested within Fedora Core 5 and is scheduled to be added into the RHEL5 release when it launches early next year. Linux vendor Novell Inc., a competitor to Red Hat, has had Xen functionality built into SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) since mid-2006.
Delay period not unexpected
Red Hat updates Fedora on a six-month upgrade cycle, but a handful of bugs caused the team to miss that deadline. The bugs were disclosed to the Fedora community via a developer newsletter penned by Fedora release engineer Jesse Keating on Oct. 17.
To Spevack, the delay was something the community should not be too worried about. The flexibility of open source and Fedora allows the project to be released within a month-long window not afforded to proprietary applications.
"Every tech company is solving bugs, but very few will admit that [to customers] and show what those bugs are," Spevack said. "The consensus out there was that Fedora Core 5.0 was one of the best releases we had, and we wanted to make sure there wasn't a drop off in terms of quality."