The latest version of the Fedora Linux distribution, Fedora 14, has officially been released - and it brings with it some impressive improvements over its predecessors.
Aiming for what the project describes as "a free desktop usable by anyone," Fedora 14 has built on previous releases by improving stability with bug fixes and performance patches - meaning you won't be seeing too many major user interface changes with this version.
Instead, the project has concentrated on improving performance across the board - including a new library dubbed libjpegturbo, which the group claims "practically halves processing time on most systems" when viewing the JPEG-format images that make up the bulk of the web.
Fedora 14 also includes Spice, the Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environment - a framework designed to make 'thin client' computers significantly richer, offering pass-through support for sound cards, 2D accelerated graphics, and other devices, along with improved cryptography for enhanced security.
That said, there has been some work on the front-end side, with the default 'spin' of the operating system now shipping with a tech preview of the GNOME Shell, which will form part of GNOME 3.0.
System administrators will be pleased to hear that Fedora 14 now includes the ipmiutil package, for remote administration of hardware that supports the Intelligent Platform Management Interface - which, these days, is the overwhelming majority of servers.
For the more advanced use, Fedora 14 ships with a technology preview - disabled by default - of systemd, a next-generation replacement for Upstart and System V init boot-up systems. Designed to enhance boot-up times while allowing tinkerers better tracking of the boot process, systemd can be enabled "with just a few simple commands," according to the team.
For developers, an updated version of the GNU Debugger GDB is included, complete with Python scripting features that allow you to grab a detailed list of memory allocations via the new 'heap' command. Speaking of Python, Fedora 14 now ships with Python 2.7, which the group claims comes with modules that are mostly "feature compatible with their Python 3.1 equivalents," making the future transition to Python 3 easier.
Jared Smith, lead on the Fedora Project, stated of the release: ""I'm very proud of the work that has been put into Fedora 14. A myriad of contributors have helped to make free and open source software more pervasive with this release."
If you're interested in giving Fedora 14 a try yourself, it's available for download in LiveCD and other formats from the newly-redesigned Fedora Project website.