The latest version of Fedora, the Linux-based operating system, gives users a peek at what they can expect to see in future Linux distributions from Red Hat and other vendors.
Fedora 10 offers a broad security framework and new audit capabilities, and gives Linux enthusiasts a good way to upgrade from Fedora 9. However, those who use the Linux-based OS shouldn’t expect any support from Red Hat.
Fedora 10 is the latest version of the community-supported, Linux-based operating system that serves as the proving ground for future Red Hat software products. As a result, Fedora offers organisations and individuals early access to the state of the art in the Linux and open-source world.
For instance, Fedora 10 boasts what may be the broadest security framework available in any general-purpose operating system, with support for implementing mandatory access control and multilevel security through SELinux, as well as a full complement of firewall, privilege management and buffer overflow protection facilities.
What’s more, Fedora 10 ships with a new audit utility, called Sectool, which provides a set of system tests for detecting configuration issues regarding permissions, firewall rules and the status of other system security features.
Like its more staid sibling, RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), Fedora can be put to a variety of uses, from notebooks and netbooks to desktops and workstations to servers of both physical and virtual persuasions. Unlike RHEL, which is sold by annual, per-system subscription, Fedora can be freely downloaded and redistributed.
The catch is that while Fedora offers organisations and individuals a free ticket to the leading edge of Linux, the distribution requires that you stay on the edge once you arrive – and once you’re there, you can’t call on Red Hat for assistance. That’s because Red Hat offers no formal support for Fedora, and, since the security and bug-fix patch stream for each version runs out after a year, users must upgrade their Fedora systems about once a year.
For example, Fedora 10 and the Fedora 9 release that preceded it both lack support for functioning as host operating systems for Xen virtualisation. Fedora 8 can be used as a Xen host, but that version of the distribution is no longer supported. Pending upstream kernel changes, a future Fedora release will again function as a Xen host, but for now, the Fedora project counsels users who require this functionality to switch to RHEL or to RHEL clone CentOS.
In any case, Fedora 10 is well worth checking out as a means of checking in on (or taking part in) what’s to come from Red Hat and from the wider Linux world. What’s more, for Linux enthusiasts who don’t mind getting a little compiler grease on their hands, Fedora 10 can serve capably as a workstation or development server operating system.