Fedora is a leading edge, free and open source operating system that continues to deliver innovative features to many users, with a new release every six months. We have reached the Fedora 12 Beta, the last important development milestone of Fedora 12. Only critical bug fixes will be pushed as updates leading up to the general release of Fedora 12, scheduled to be released in mid-November. We invite you to join us and participate in making Fedora 12 a solid release by downloading, testing, and providing us your valuable feedback.
Of course, this is a beta release, some problems may still be lurking. Should you trip across one of them, be sure it gets fixed before release by reporting your discovery at:
What’s New in Fedora 12?
* Optimized performance – All software packages on 32-bit (x86_32) architecture have been compiled for i686 systems with special optimization for Intel Atom processors used in many netbooks but without losing compatibility with the overwhelming majority of CPUs. There is a list of the rare CPUs which will no longer be supported.
* Smaller and faster updates – In Fedora 11, the optional yum-presto plugin, developed by Fedora contributor Jonathan Dieter, reduced update size by transmitting only the changes in the updated packages. Now, the plugin is installed by default. Also, RPMs now use XZ rather than gzip for compression, providing smaller package sizes without the memory and CPU penalties associated with bzip2. This lets us fit more software into each Fedora image, and uses less space on mirrors, making their administrators’ lives a little easier. Thanks to the Fedora infrastructure team for their work in generating delta RPMs.
* NetworkManager broadband and other enhancements – NetworkManager, originally developed by Red Hat’s Dan Williams, was introduced in Fedora 7 and has become the de facto network configuration solution for distributions everywhere. Enhancements to NetworkManager make both system-wide connections and mobile broadband connections easier than ever. Signal strength and network selection are available for choosing the best mobile broadband connection when you’re on the road. Bluetooth PAN support offers a simple click through process to access the Internet from your mobile phone. NetworkManager can now configure always-on and static address connections directly from the desktop. PolicyKit integration has been added so configuration management can be done via central policy where needed. IPv6 support has also been improved.
* Next-generation (Ogg) Theora video – For several years, Theora, the open and free format not encumbered by known patents has provided a way for freedom-loving users to share video. Fedora 12 includes the new Theora 1.1, which achieves near-H.264 quality, meeting the expectations of demanding users with crisp, vibrant media in both streaming and downloadable form. Thanks to the work of the Xiph.Org Foundation’s Christopher “Monty” Montgomery, sponsored by Red Hat, other Xiph developers, and the contribution of Mozilla.org, Firefox 3.5 can deliver free media on the web out of the box, using the Theora video and Vorbis audio formats even better than the previous release of Fedora.
* Graphics support improvements – Fedora 12 introduces experimental 3D support for AMD Radeon HD 2400 and later graphics cards. To try it out, install the mesa-dri-drivers-experimental package. On many cards, this support should allow desktop effects to be used. Kernel mode setting (KMS) support, which was introduced on AMD hardware in Fedora 10 and extended to Intel hardware in Fedora 11, is now extended to NVIDIA hardware as well, meaning the great majority of systems now benefit from the smooth, fully-graphical startup sequence made possible by KMS. The Fedora graphical startup sequence now works better on systems with multiple monitors. Also on multiple monitor systems, the desktop will now automatically be spread across all monitors by default, rather than having all monitors display the same output, including on NVIDIA chips (where multiple monitor spanning was not possible without manual configuration changes in Fedora 11). Systems with NVIDIA graphics chips also gain initial support for suspend and resume functionality via the default Nouveau driver. Initial support for the new DisplayPort display connector has been added for Intel graphics chips. Support for Nvidia and ATI systems is already under rapid development and will be included in the next release of Fedora. Thanks to the Red Hat Xorg team including Adam Jackson (X server), Kristian Høgsberg (Intel driver), Dave Airlie and Jerome Glisse (Radeon driver for AMD), and Ben Skeggs (Nouveau driver for NVIDIA).
* Virtualization improvements – Not content with all the improvements in Fedora 11, we’ve kicked virtualization based on KVM up another notch in Fedora 12. There are extensive improvements in performance, management, resource sharing, and still more security enhancements. A new library (libguestfs) and an interactive tool (guestfish) are now available for directly accessing and modifying virtual machine disk images.
* Automatic reporting of crashes and SELinux issues – Abrt, a tool to help non-power users report crashes to Bugzilla with a few mouse clicks, is now enabled by default. Abrt collects detailed information automatically and helps developers identify and resolve issues faster, improving the quality of individual upstream components and Fedora. The SELinux alert monitoring tool has also added the ability to report SELinux issues to Bugzilla quickly and easily with just a couple of clicks.
* New Dracut initrd generation tool – Up until Fedora 11, the boot system (initial ram disk or initrd) used to boot Fedora was monolithic, very distribution specific and didn’t provide much flexibility. This has been replaced with Dracut, an initial ram disk generation tool with an event-based framework designed to be distribution-independent thanks to the Dracut team including Harald Hoyer, Jeremy Katz, Dave Jones and many others. It has been also adopted by OLPC which uses Fedora; OLPC modules for Dracut are available in the Fedora repository.
* PackageKit plugins – PackageKit now has a plugin which can install an appropriate package when a user tries to run a command from a missing package. Another new plugin allows installation of software packages from a web browser. Thanks to Red Hat’s Richard Hughes and the PackageKit team.
* Bluetooth on-demand – Bluetooth services are automatically started when needed and stopped 30 seconds after last device use, reducing initial startup time and resource use when Bluetooth is not in active use. Thanks to Red Hat’s Bastien Nocera.
* Moblin graphical interface for netbooks – The Moblin graphical interface and applications are fully integrated thanks to Peter Robinson, a Fedora Project volunteer, and others. To use it, just install the Moblin Desktop Environment package group using yum or the graphical software management tools, and choose Moblin from the login manager. A F12 Moblin Fedora Remix (installable Live CD) will also be available.
* PulseAudio enhancements – Red Hat’s Lennart Poettering and several others have made significant improvements to the PulseAudio system. Improved mixer logic makes volume control more fine-grained and reliable. Integration with the Rygel UPnP media server means you can stream audio directly from your system to any UPnP / DLNA client, such as a Playstation 3. Hotplug support has been made more intelligent, so if you configure a device as the default output for a stream, unplug that device — causing the stream(s) to be moved to another output device — and later replug it, the stream is moved back to the preferred device. Finally, Bluetooth audio support means pairing with any Bluetooth audio device makes it available for use through PulseAudio.
* Lower process privileges – In order to mitigate the impact of security vulnerabilities, permissions have been hardened for many files and system directories and process privileges have been lowered for a number of core components that require super user privileges. Red Hat’s Steve Grubb has developed a new library, libcap-ng, and integrated it into many core system components to improve the security of Fedora.
* SELinux sandbox – It is now possible to confine applications’ access to the system and run them in a secure sandbox that takes advantage of the sophisticated capabilities of SELinux. Dan Walsh, SELinux developer at Red Hat, explains the details at http://danwalsh.livejournal.com/31146.html
* Open Broadcom firmware – The openfwwf open source Broadcom firmware is included by default. This means wireless networking will be available out of the box on some Broadcom chipsets.
* Hybrid live images – The Live images provided in this release can be directly imaged onto a USB stick using dd (or any equivalent tool) to create bootable Live USB keys. The Fedora Live USB Creator for Windows and the livecd-tools for Fedora are still recommended for data persistence and non-destructive writes. Thanks to Jeremy Katz.
* Better webcam support – While Fedora 11 improved webcam support, in Fedora 12 you can expect even better video quality, especially for less expensive webcams. Red Hat’s Hans de Goede, developer of the libv4l library, has more details on his continuous upstream webcam support enhancements at http://hansdegoede.livejournal.com/6989.html.
* GNOME 2.28 – The latest version of the GNOME desktop includes the lighter Gnote replacement for Tomboy as the default note application, and Empathy replaces Pidgin as the default instant messenger. The new volume control application, first seen in Fedora 11, has been improved to restore some of the popular functionality from earlier releases without making the interface too complex.
* GNOME Shell preview – Fedora 12 includes an early version of GNOME Shell, which will become the default interface for GNOME 3.0 and beyond. To try it, install the gnome-shell package, and use the Desktop Effects configuration tool to enable it. It will only work correctly from the GNOME desktop environment, not others such as KDE or Xfce. This is a preview technology, and some video cards may not be supported.
* KDE 4.3 – The new KDE features an updated “Air” theme and fully configurable keyboard shortcuts in Plasma, improved performance and new desktop effects in the window manager, a new bug reporting tool, and a configuration tool for the LIRC infra-red remote control system.
* Cool new stuff for developers beginning with Eclipse Galileo, which includes more plugins than ever before. Perl 6 is now included, along with PHP 5.3. For Haskell developers, the Haskell Platform now provides a standardized set of libraries and tools. But one of the biggest changes for developers is that most of the nice new features of Fedora 12, from Bluetooth to WebCams is implemented through underlying libraries, and many of the improvements will be included simply by relinking your application. Also available in this release are SystemTap 1.0 for improved instrumenting and debugging of binaries, complete with Eclipse integration, and the newest NetBeans IDE for Java development.
* Cool new stuff for sysadmins includes added functionality for clustered Samba services (including active/active configurations) over GFS2; and the ability to boot a cluster of Fedora systems from a single, shared root file system.
* Multi-Pointer X – The update to X.Org server 1.7 introduces the X Input Extension version 2.0 (XI2), with much work contributed by Red Hat’s Peter Hutterer. This extension provides a new client API for handling input devices and also Multi-Pointer X (MPX) functionality. MPX functionality allows X to cope with many inputs of arbitrary types simultaneously, a prerequisite for (among others) multitouch-based desktops and multi-user interaction on a single screen. This is low-level work that applications and desktop environments will incrementally take advantage of in future releases. More details are available in the Release Notes and in the XI2 tag of Peter Hutterer’s blog at http://who-t.blogspot.com/search/label/xi2
A full feature list is available on the wiki at
OK, go get it. You know you can’t wait.
Draft release notes and guides for several languages are available at