Joy to the world, a new version of Fedora codenamed “Schrödinger’s Cat” has been released! In the past, Fedora has provided leadership in the open source community, holding up to strict open source policies, continuous support to upstream projects, and by offering the latest software before any other distribution.
As such, the Fedora Schrodinger’s Cat isn’t quite the best distribution for Linux beginners or regular desktop users who want a system that works entirely out of the box. Rather, Fedora is better suited for power users and developers. The Fedora Project, backed by Red Hat, fuels a great community whose work is felt everywhere — from other distributions that rely on various upstream projects, to the creation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This new release of Fedora 19 brings in plenty of improvements for your immediate enjoyment.
Plenty of Software Updates
First things first, a lot of software has been upgraded to the latest and greatest versions to include new features, security patches, and other improvements. This includes Linux kernel version 3.9.5 (which is expected to jump to 3.10 via a software upgrade), GNOME 3.8, KDE 4.10, MATE 1.6, LibreOffice 4.1, MariaDB instead of MySQL because of concerns that Oracle will make MySQL closed-source.
Fedora 19 now also uses GCC 4.8, the latest GCC compiler, in all of its packages, which provides performance improvements over previous Fedora releases as the compiler can better optimize the final code. Various development frameworks have been updated to the latest versions as well, and a new tool called Developer’s Assistant helps users create new development environments of a handful of different programming languages. This assists new programmers as well as programmers unfamiliar with Fedora get started on the operating system. Finally, the new Anaconda system installer received an update to make installation a little easier and intuitive. It’s still far from perfect, but it has made progress from its state in Fedora 18. Overall, the improvements highlighted in this paragraph don’t necessarily add many awesome features, but it does improve the quality of the distribution.
Gnome’s User Setup
OK, so maybe I lied a little about there not being many new features in the items I listed. GNOME 3.8, for example, surprised me very much after I tried an installation. When I first started my system after installing Fedora 19, I was greeted with a little walkthrough of the desktop. I even got to watch a video that explained the desktop mechanics (I don’t remember whether it was during the user setup or after), which is fantastic for users new to Gnome. However, what I was most impressed by in the final step before completing the user setup was that the system had asked about my various online accounts. Got a Facebook account? You can add it. A Google account? Live account? Custom Exchange account? You can add it all. While the online accounts feature has already been available in Gnome for a while, it has never prompted you to add them whenever you first run your new installation. I went ahead and added my accounts, and then I finally realized how useful it can actually be to add them to Gnome’s online accounts framework.
Although the amount of services supported isn’t large, it does cover all of the major ones that most people will be using. Once added, Gnome starts doing some magic to add all of those accounts (wherever possible) into various desktop applications. Any possible email addresses (most except Facebook) will be added to the email client Evolution as well as any calendars or task lists. Chat-capable accounts will be added to the IM client Empathy, and services that have file sharing services such as Google and Live (via SkyDrive) will be added to the Documents application where you can view all of your available files. I love this integration as it makes it very easy to get set up and start being productive. Most of all, I was impressed that it was able to add my Exchange account so easily and have it integrated in various locations, as Exchange support in Linux has always been iffy at best.
3D Printing Support
Another prominent feature of Fedora 19 is its complete support for 3D printing. This is remarkable as it even beats Microsoft in 3D printing support, allowing people to use Fedora for their open source 3D printing solutions. The support includes everything from the programs that can edit the CAD models to the controller software for the actual 3D printer. I’m really happy to see this support because usually Linux is behind the proprietary operating systems in supporting certain features (DVDs, BluRays, and exFAT anyone?). In any case, Fedora is currently the best operating system to use if you need to do some 3D printing.
Although Fedora isn’t known for gaming at all, there’s a bit of news for Linux gamers who don’t like running the proprietary drivers. Fedora 19 comes with a development snapshot of Mesa 9.2, a framework that provides many graphical features. Along with some updated drivers in Linux kernels 3.9 and 3.10, performance while using the open source drivers is actually better under Fedora than it currently is under Ubuntu. Of course, using proprietary drivers is still best (which is also difficult to do now in Fedora exactly because of the very recent kernel versions that it uses), but it’s good to know that the open source drivers are improving. Radeon users should be grateful for kernel 3.11, as it is slated to finally add dynamic power management and a few performance improvements for ATI Radeon cards.
Overall, I’m quite happy with this release, and it seems to run stable enough for anyone to enjoy. Heck, I might try to use Fedora as my daily driver instead of Ubuntu as soon as I can settle on a desktop environment and still be at peace with myself. However, anyone thinking about doing the same will need to remember that Fedora requires a bit of work to get into a generally useable state, at least when it comes to things like Flash, Java, codecs, and more.
You can get the new release of the Linux distribution by visiting their page and clicking on Download Now. Be aware that, by default, Fedora downloads the 64-bit version with the Gnome desktop. Take a look at this page for other options.
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What do you think about Fedora 19? What should they improve in the next release? Let us know in the comments!