Fedora 16 'Verne': Usability Meets Business Acumen
Compared with Ubuntu and Linux Mint, Fedora Linux is an old-timer, dating back to 2003. It arose from the ashes of Red Hat Linux, which was discontinued in favor of the officially supported Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Today, Fedora serves as the free, community version of RHEL.
Yet Fedora Linux has remained entrenched as the third most popular Linux distribution in recent years, according to DistroWatch. Its numerous strengths include top-notch security, good usability, a choice of desktops, cloud capabilities, and strong business features.
The Elegance of GNOME 3
A freshly updated GNOME Display Manager login screen greets Fedora 16 users with an appearance designed to match the look and feel of the GNOME 3.2 desktop, which is one of two options that Fedora 16 offers. Though GNOME 3 has been controversial, much the way Ubuntu's Unity has, it is part of a growing class of desktops that borrow from mobile-interface designs to create a clean and simplified feel.
The Beauty of KDE
In addition to GNOME 3, Fedora 16 users may opt for KDE Plasma Workspaces, now updated to version 4.7. Included in that alternative desktop environment are KDE Applications and the KDE Platform 4.7. Widely preferred by many Linux users, KDE is the default desktop in Linux distributions such as OpenSUSE, the Kubuntu derivative of Ubuntu, and Mandriva 2011.
An Integrated Presence
As part of GNOME 3, the Fedora desktop gives users an integrated view of their presence on the system, including online accounts and notifications settings. Users can turn chat notifications on or off, a helpful feature during busy times. And with the new contacts manager, they can search through contacts in the same place they search for applications and documents.
Focusing initially on Google accounts, the new Online Accounts panel in GNOME 3 lets you manage your online presence right from the desktop. Users can also interact with their contacts via a messaging tray built directly into the desktop, so they don't have to interrupt their work to switch over to a chat application for each interaction.
An On-Screen Keyboard
Also new in Fedora 16's GNOME 3.2 desktop is an on-screen keyboard, which is particularly convenient for tablet use and for accessibility purposes. The on-screen keyboard is integrated into the shell; you can activate it via the Control Center's Accessibility panel.
Meanwhile, for owners of Wacom tablets or laptops with integrated Wacom LCD panels, a new Wacom configuration panel in the GNOME Control Center provides options to customize tablet functions.
A New File Previewer
GNOME's Nautilus file manager now includes a new file previewer called “Sushi,” shown here previewing a photo. To activate the preview, just select the file you want to see in Nautilus, and then press the spacebar.
In addition, GNOME's color manager has been integrated into the GNOME Control Center, allowing you to calibrate your display using hardware calibration devices such as the Pantone Huey, as well as to calibrate cameras and printers using a variety of color-swatch cards.
Aeolus is an open-source software suite made to liberate cloud-services users from vendor lock-in by providing a single, consistent set of tools to build and manage organized groups of virtual machines across clouds. Shown here is Fedora 16's Aeolus Conductor, the Web front-end management interface for the software; other components are available for the building and storing of images, and for post-boot configuration.
Virtual Machine Manager
In version 16, Fedora's Virtual Machine Manager--called virt-manager--is now integrated with libguestfs, an open-source API for interacting with virtual disk images. One result of that integration is the ability to inspect the applications and version numbers associated with a virtual machine. Also new in this release is the ability to redirect USB devices to virtual machines.
HekaFS is a cloud-ready version of the GlusterFS distributed file system that includes additional authentication and authorization, encryption, and multitenancy support. It also offers a management framework that you can access via a command-line interface, as well as through the Web interface shown here.