Fedora 9 – Why it’s so awesome

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Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Okay, I know that title is a pretty pretentious statement by itself, as much of Fedora 9’s awesomeness isn’t unique to it. So, I’ll grant that much of the coming awesomeness is related to Gnome 2.22, which is not limited to Fedora 9, nor is Pulseaudio, Upstart (props to the Ubuntuees for that), or a plethora of other things. So, in reality, Fedora 9’s awesomeness is a celebration of Free & Open-Source software and its universal community.

The following is pretty-much ripped from the wiki. The witty banter is added by me. Also, I know I’m not the first (actually, I hope I’m quite close to the last) to have done one of these things. What follows are the features that I consider to be cool and important, but this list is obviously by no means exhaustive or even appropriately representative of Fedora 9. It’s simply a list of what I think will make Fedora 9 so awesome, in shaaʾ Allaah.

Okay, that should be enough flame retardant for now…onwards!

Unified Dictionary Support

This feature is really nice because I tend to use words that aren’t in the stock dictionaries of Pidgin, Firefox, or OpenOffice.org, including transliterations of Arabic that I frequently throw into the mix (already, above, there are two examples). So, I frequently have to add these customized spellings and/or rarer words (or just plain preferred spellings) to the existing dictionaries numerous times. Fedora 9 now unifies these dictionaries so I should, technically, need only one. Awesome!

Ext4 Filesystem Support

Ext4 is the successor to the successful stable ext3 filesystem. Personally, I’ve been using this on both a fresh install of the Fedora 9 Beta and Preview releases, and I have not had any problems. On top of that, I have actually seen some significant performance enhancements, particularly when dealing with both very large as well as large numbers of files. Of course, ext4 has a laundry list of features to it, so don’t just take it from me, check it out!

Note: As the Ext4 filesystem is not nearly as long-in-the-tooth as ext3, you may consider not using it if you have only one copy of data on the filesystem. I feel comfortable and confident about using it for myself, but as people tend to be very conservative when it comes to their choice of filesystems for good reasons, just consider reading-up on it before you commit to it. And when you do, you’ll probably also think it’s awesome!

Firefox 3

Firefox has long been the poster child for the positive impact that a free and open source model can have on software. Taking the world by storm, Firefox has given a good knock to the stalwart of the Internet Age, Internet Explorer 6, and has driven innovation on the Web to new heights, not the least of which is driving Microsoft into releasing newer versions of Internet Explorer at a previously unheard of pace just to keep up with the pace of the Web.

Firefox 3 delivers yet another knock-out blow with amazingly enhanced performance (especially under GNU/Linux), excellent features (like the…wait for it…AwesomeBar…), and all-around slickness such as better cross-platform native integration (don’t think about the logic of that for too long…it’s good, trust me…).

It seems like Firefox is still in Beta for now, but as I’ve been using Firefox since version 0.7, I’ve grown accustomed to the stability that comes with the positive & productive attitude of release early, release often.

(Mandatory “awesome” reference can be found two paragraphs above.)

Gvfs

One of the beauties that Gnome has brought for us is the outstandingly flexibly and featureful Gvfs. Continuing in Gnome’s tradition of just pushing forward to improve the desktop experience, Gvfs offers a new virtual filesystem interface that allows amazingly easy & flexibly file-level access to myriad new platforms, be they of a network, device, or other type of nature. Read the link to the Gnome website for specifics about this nifty new feature.

jigdo

As one of the mirrors of the Fedora Unity Re-Spin project, I’m sort of proud of this one, even though, aside from hosting, all I’ve really done is impeded the progress of releases by asking inane questions at inappropriate times (note to self: check release schedules before hounding people for assistance). It is largely through the work of the fine folks at Fedora Unity that jigdo has now become a mainstay in the Fedora distribution model.

So why should anyone bother with jigdo when there’s already BitTorrent? I used to wonder the same thing, but then I used jigdo for the first time. To vastly over simplify it, with Jigdo, one need only download the bits they are lacking in order to get a full ISO, be it DVD or CD. So, if you already have a Fedora 9 Beta or Preview release, using Jigdo, you’d need only download the packages that have been updated since then.

Contrast this with BitTorrent, where one would need to download the entire ISO, regardless of what bits you may already have of a previous release. Yes, BitTorrent is peer-to-peer and jigdo isn’t (at least, not yet?), but you still have to download the whole 3+GB worth before you have something to install. Jigdo can save you a lot of bandwidth if you already have a previous release available, whether as an ISO file or burnt directly on a disc.

On top of that, if used intelligently, a widespread adoption of jigdo as a distribution method would also alleviate the burden of hosts from having to hold large ISO files which are really just composed of myriad packages already present on the mirror. As a host myself, I think that is just awesome!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to use Jigdo for getting Fedora, check out Fedora Unity Jigdo howto.

KDE4

Although I do not use the KDE aside from a few choice apps, I think it would be rather rude and inappropriate to neglect the awesome efforts of the Fedora KFE SIG in making Fedora 9 the first major distribution release to feature KDE4

As I am not as familiar with this awesomeum as I am others, I will leave the absorption of the full details as an exercise for the reader (note: their release annoucement page is…yes, that’s right…awesome…).

PackageKit

It has been called the OPMtRTA (perhaps only by me). I’ll admit that PK has had it’s growing pains, but I have to say, Richard Hughes (and anyone else?) has done an awesome job pulling this one together. I think this is something that necessarily will have to continue to evolve as the scope of PackageKit is just amazing. How far it’s come is even more so, and I am really looking forward to seeing where it goes and what innovative solutions are found for the plethora of problems present with package procurement (okay, that last one was a bit of a stretch, I know…).

I would like to take this time to say that Richard has one of the fastest turnaround-times I’ve seen in any kind of a project, whether it is related to bugs, features, or implementation. And, given the amount of heat that’s been thrown his way, his demeanor has always been calm, collected, and courteous (that one was better, wasn’t it?).

100% Free and Open Source

This isn’t new…it’s always been there. Yes, Fedora, by directed and intentional policy, is a 100% Free and Open Source GNU/Linux distribution. While it is possible to get non-free bits into it, you’ll not find one shipped with it. I think this is, by far, the greatest feature of Fedora (at least, as an OS – I consider the community to be the best part of Fedora in general). Take us back a decade or two, and who would have thought that such a functional and polished product could exist free from the enslaving shackles of proprietary softare? Alhamdulillaah!

So, there you have it! A quick view of the upcoming Fedora 9! I’ll be doing my best to mirror the torrents of Fedora, both the i386 and x86_64 releases, in shaa Allaah. Please feel free to share your own comments and experiences with Fedora 9 and/or free-and-open-source software in general!

4 thoughts on “Fedora 9 – Why it’s so awesome”

  1. Basil says:

    Hehe…as of right now, searching Google for “Fedora 9 and Firefox” points to this post…AWESOME!

  2. nate says:

    i just ran the liveCD of KDE version…..it is AWESOME…man,ubuntu got a bad time

  3. Basil says:

    Nate,

    That’s great! I haven’t had a chance to try out the new KDE yet myself, but I’m really looking forward to it.

    Why did Ubuntu “get a bad time”? From what I understand, their 8.04 release is working out to be excellent!

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