Released for free download last week, Version 8 of Red Hat's community-based Fedora Linux operating system includes wider customization features, improved printer installation, and detection and improved audio capabilities.
The new version builds on the improved customization features and overhauled operating system infrastructure that were the highlights of last May's Fedora 7 release, said Max Spevack, the Fedora project leader at Red Hat.
Because of development cycle schedule differences between Fedora and Red Hat's Enterprise Linux (RHEL) releases, Fedora 7 and 8 have mainly added features for the community-supported, free Fedora versions, he said. That will change with Fedora 9 and 10, he said, which will come out before the next version of RHEL and will incorporate more features and development work aimed at enterprise users and their needs.
Within the first 24 hours of its release, there were about 25,000 downloads of Fedora 8, and there have been about 15,000 installs so far, Spevack said.
One major feature of the new version is that it can run entirely off a USB key for portability, he said. "I think we've seen a lot of people start to do that," Spevack said.
Also new is a PulseAudio system that adds a layer atop two existing audio systems to make the use of audio easier under Linux, he said. With the new system, audio "should just work" under Fedora 8, he said. PulseAudio is a sound server that acts by default as a proxy among all of a user's sound applications, according to Red Hat. With PulseAudio, users can set different volumes for different applications and have hot-plugging support for USB sound devices and support for audio over the network.
Changes have also been made to improve printer detection, configuration and installation under Fedora, making it more automatic than previous versions, Spevack said.
Fedora 8 offers both GNU Object Model Environment (GNOME) and K Desktop Environmen-based Live CDs and an installable DVD for workstations and servers.
Also included are improved graphical tools for firewall configuration and an update for Bluetooth integration.
There are also several new customized versions of Fedora 8, including Fedora Electronics Lab, which is specific for circuit design and electronics development, and a Fedora games edition, Spevack said.