Fedora 12 Beta now available!

Jesse Keating jkeating at redhat.com
Tue Oct 20 13:56:32 UTC 2009

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:


Thank you!

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

* 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

* 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

* 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


Jesse Keating
Fedora -- Freedom² is a feature!
identi.ca: http://identi.ca/jkeating
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