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Interview with Paul Frields

By Rebecca Sobol
November 26, 2008
Paul Frields is the Fedora Project Leader and in the days before the Fedora 10 release he was giving telephone briefings to the media. I took advantage of about an hour of Paul's time to talk about Fedora and the Fedora 10 release. The following article is based on that conversation.

To begin with, we talked about Fedora's new Special Interest Group (SIG) for servers running Fedora. Fedora is a fast-paced distribution, and therefore not suitable for all servers. There are many places Fedora makes an excellent server, though. Some of those uses are: in house, non-internet facing servers or servers with a separate firewall. It is used in server farms and home servers, and other places where the 13 month life cycle is not a problem. The roadrunner supercomputer, a hybrid cluster with both IBM PowerXCell and AMD Opteron processors runs both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora. Roadrunner holds the number 1 spot in the top500 list.

Fedora is more than a bleeding edge desktop, although it is good at that. Fedora sponsors the development of many projects through FedoraHosted.org, and provides many other contributions to upstream projects. Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux (EPEL) is a community effort by Fedora developers to provide high-quality add-on packages that complement Red Hat Enterprise Linux and its compatible spinoffs such as CentOS or Scientific Linux. Fedora also contributes to The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. Fedora does serve many needs.

Including those of "remixers", the creators of derivative distributions. The new trademark guidelines, still in draft form, are designed to spell out the DOs and DON'Ts of creating a remix. Remixers can chose packages from the official Fedora repository, EPEL, RPMFusion and other repositories. Packages can also be built from source, with or without patches; to create the distribution they want.

Naturally, I asked Paul about the infrastructure/security problems that were announced last August. LWN covered the issue in August and September. We have yet to see a final analysis of what happened. Paul did say that a team of Red Hat engineers and Fedora volunteers rebuilt everything from scratch, and signed the packages with new keys. Beyond that, we were told that the investigation is ongoing and more information will be available once the investigation is complete.

Fedora 10 was announced this week, along with the RPM Fusion and ATrpms repositories, updated for Fedora 10. Here are some highlights of this release.

With Fedora 9 it became possible to create a persistent USB device, that is a key that can be updated, remember settings and store some data. With Fedora 10 you have all that, plus you can encrypt your home directory on the key.

The new NetworkManager features connection sharing to enable collaboration everywhere. PackageKit advances the software management system with its ability of using yum, apt, conary, and other existing tools. PackageKit can search for codecs, listen to dbus and communications between applications. With the long-term roadmap for PackageKit, this utility will understand what packages you need and will get it for you. F10 has faster boot times, kernel mode settings and improved virtualization with KVM.

Paul said that the number of Fedora Ambassadors doubles each year. The ambassador program is world-wide, with people who represent the Fedora Project to the wider public, help spread the word about Fedora, Linux, and Open Source, become a point of contact for local community members and channel the feedback to Fedora Project, help recruit project contributors and think of creative ways for promoting Fedora.

Fedora 10 has more official spins than ever before. These are specialized distributions that contain only packages in the main Fedora repository. A small sampling includes the Fedora Electronics Lab (FEL) Spin, Fedora KDE Desktop, Fedora Edu/Math Spin and Fedora XFCE Desktop. So check out Fedora 10, or one of the many spins and remixes that are available.

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New Releases

Fedora 10 released

The announcement for the Fedora 10 release has gone out. "Please remember to polarize viewports to properly enjoy Cambridge's brand new graphics theme, "Solar," shining on the desktop. Also on this flight is a new lightweight desktop environment, LXDE, joining the more recent desktop environment crew member, Sugar (from the starship OLPC XO), and the venerable GNOME, KDE, and XFCE." There is also a new RPM Fusion update to go along with Fedora 10.

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LFS 6.4 is released

The Linux From Scratch community has announced the release of LFS v6.4. "This release includes numerous changes to LFS-6.3 (including update to Linux-2.6.27.4, GCC-4.3.2, Glibc-2.8) and security fixes. It also includes editorial work on the explanatory material throughout the book, improving both the clarity and accuracy of the text."

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Ubuntu Jaunty Alpha 1 released

Jaunty Jackalope, will become Ubuntu 9.04, has released its first alpha version. "The primary changes from Intrepid have been the re-merging of changes from Debian. We've also been spending some time getting the new ARM port up and running (http://www.ubuntu.com/news/arm-linux), although its build daemons are still catching up so installable images will have to wait for a future Alpha release."

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Distribution News

Debian GNU/Linux

Bits from the buildd.debian.org world

Click below from some bits from the buildd.debian.org world. "Recent work from Steve McIntyre (current DPL) in coordination with Ryan Murray (wanna-build maintainer and buildd admin for several architectures) has led to the injection of new blood in the buildd.debian.org world. We thank them both for this opportunity, plus DSA for their help throughout the process."

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Fedora

Fedora IRC Board Meeting Recap

Click below for a brief recap of the November 18th meeting of the Fedora Advisory Board.

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Gentoo Linux

The Gentoo Council

Doug Goldstein's blog has an article on the Gentoo Council. "The Gentoo Council is a group of elected Gentoo Developers that are elected on a yearly basis by the developer body as a whole for the purpose of deciding on global issues and policies which affect the Gentoo Linux Distro as a whole or part. The Gentoo Council serves as the technical oversight to the the entire project. We are charged with representing the will of the developer body, while maintaining the best interest for Gentoo and it's user base. In effect, the Gentoo Council derives its authority from the developer body, this is what differentiates it from the Gentoo Foundation, which handles the financial side of Gentoo."

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Slackware Linux

Slackware Changelog

The Slackware current changelog entry for November 19, 2008 indicates that we are getting closer to the 12.2 release. "NOTE: These are some of the more important updates for X.Org. For the last several days we have been building and testing the very newest X updates, and it seems that the more intrusive updates are probably best left to develop until sometime after the coming -stable Slackware 12.2 release. Those will require a lot of testing and some things don't seem to be quite there yet. "X -configure" is hanging the console, DRI is not yet working on all the hardware tested, and the new xorg-server will render most existing xorg.conf files non-functional until several changes are made."

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SUSE Linux and openSUSE

openSUSE Sports a New License (Ding dong, the EULA’s dead…)

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier has announced the removal of the click-through openSUSE end-user license agreement (EULA) on his blog. The new license is really a license notice, alerting users to the free software licenses of the included software. It is based on the one that Fedora uses, with their permission and encouragement. "The work we’ve done on the openSUSE Build Service and the openSUSE license is all about making it easy to redistribute openSUSE: Either as-is, or modified to suit your needs. Want to ship an Xfce or KDE 3.5 live CD? We want to make that easy. Want to use openSUSE for another project that we haven’t thought of? Again - we want you to, and we want to make it easy! (And, of course, we want you to have a lot of fun while you’re doing this – though our lawyers tell us that’s not legally enforceable.)" The text of the new license is also available.

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YaST Mascot Winner Chosen! Say Hello to Yastie!

YaST, the setup tool used by openSUSE, has a new mascot, named Yastie. "The openSUSE Project and YaST team are happy to announce the winner of the YaST Mascot Contest. After extensive deliberation, the judges have chosen the Aardvark concept, submitted by Klára Cihlárová."

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Other distributions

rPath Spurs Operating System Evolution with Ubuntu, CentOS Support

rPath has announced that its rBuilder and the rPath Lifecycle Management Platform will now support Ubuntu and CentOS, SUSE Linux is already supported. "rBuilder is the category-defining build and release management system for creating virtual appliances and application images. The rPath Lifecycle Management Platform extends rBuilder with a comprehensive system for controlling the cost, complexity and risk of deploying, managing and maintaining application images in virtualized and cloud-based environments. The rPath approach assembles and binds application functionality with an operating system, creating a self-contained application image that can be easily deployed, managed and maintained."

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A New Direction for Shift Linux

Shift Linux, a project created by the Neowin community, has announced a new direction. "We have several new goals that are being set. First of all, Shift needs to be streamlined. Some things are going to be cut out to make room for others. The biggest changes here: one distribution under one name. Shift Linux will be Shift Linux. There will be no Shift Lite or Shift KDE or Shift Gnome, there will be a Shift Linux. And Shift Linux will run Gnome by default. It is important, however, to make one thing very clear: we will always hold a place for alternatives, and where possible we will always offer KDE and Fluxbox for one click installation."

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Happy Birthday sidux

Sidux, a distribution that attempts to stabilize Debian's unstable branch aka sid. The project has announced its second anniversary (in German).

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New Distributions

"INX Is Not X", Version 1.0

INX has announced the release of version 1.0. "INX is a "Live CD" distribution of GNU/Linux, derived from Ubuntu 8.04.1 LTS, but using "ubuntu-minimal" and "ubuntu-standard" as a base. It is console only, without any graphical "X" programs. INX is intended as a "tutorial" and introduction to the Bash command line, but is a fully capable, portable GNU/Linux system in its own right. It has a collection of easy-to-use menus, colour themes, easy configuration tools, music (and video on the frame buffer), some games, and several surprises for those who are not aware of what can be done in a console/tty." INX has been added to the "Education" section of the list.

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Distribution Newsletters

DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 279

The DistroWatch Weekly for November 24, 2008 is out. "The biggest news of the week was the final decision in the case of SCO vs. Novell in a Utah court. LXer.com summed it up this way: "Novell Wins, SCO Loses." In other news, big box retailers across the United States stocked their shelves with netbooks preloaded with Linux in time for Black Friday, the day after the American Thanksgiving holiday and traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. Target and Best Buy stores displayed the ASUS Eee PC 900a for US$299 this week. Other netbooks with prices as low as US$199 are expected on shelves by Friday. In the news section, Paul Frields challenges the often-made claims that Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution; openSUSE announces Zypper 1.0 and plans for Zypper 2, Gentoo Linux summarises the Gentoo Council functions and activities, sidux celebrates its second birthday, and Shift Linux announces a major shift in the direction of its Ubuntu-based distribution. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the new editor of DistroWatch Weekly is Chris Smart of the Kororaa and MakeTheMove.net fame. Happy reading!"

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Fedora Weekly News #153

The Fedora Weekly News for November 23, 2008 is out. "Fedora 10 is released[0] tomorrow and we hope you can find time during the install to read-up on what's going on in our rapidly moving Fedora Project. We include a discussion in Developments of the need for "More and Wider Testing". Translation shares that "Release Announcements in Local Languages" are now possible, Artwork brings an important "Fonts Survey" to your attention and also looks at the "Echo Perspective" icon variants. SecurityAdvisories lists the essential updates. Virtualization gets you up to speed with an overview of all the new features of "Fedora 10 Virtualization". This is just a sampling of this week's essential reading for those who wish to stay abreast of where our distribution is going and why. Enjoy Fedora 10!"

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openSUSE Weekly News, Issue 47

This issue of the openSUSE Weekly News covers openSUSE 11.1 Beta 5.1 for PowerPC Released, Fresh Factory Live-CDs, People of openSUSE: Vincent Untz, ARM Support for openSUSE Buildservice and openSUSE, First SUSE Studio Production and several other topics. Click below for links to several translations.

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PCLinuxOS Magazine, Issue 27

The November 2008 issue of PCLinuxOS Magazine is out. Highlights include Linux Media Player Roundup 5, PCLOSonUSB, Brighten the Puter, and more. As usual the issue is available in PDF or HTML.

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Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter #118

The Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter for November 22, 2008 covers: Jaunty Jackalope Alpha 1 released, The Ubuntu Hall of Fame, Ubuntu for the Holidays, New Community Developers, LoCo Release Parties, Launchpad offline November 24th, Meet Barry Warsaw, OpenID from your Launchpad profile, Launchpad t-shirts, Ubuntu UK Podcast, Ubuntu Podcast #12, Linux Identity Magazine Covers Ubuntu 8.10, and much, much more!"

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Interviews

Fedora 10: the GNU/Linux Desktop Steps Forward (Datamation)

Over at Datamation, Bruce Byfield previews the upcoming Fedora 10 release in a discussion with Fedora project leader Paul Frields. The conversation ranges from the now-infamous "infrastructure problems" (with no new information) to the new features coming in Fedora 10. There is even some speculation on Fedora 11. "In Fedora 11 and later releases, Frields suggests, this basic capacity will be expanded in other ways. For instance, users who click on a file format that requires a program that their system lacks might be given a chance to install the program immediately. Similarly, if a document requires an uninstalled font, then users could install the font before opening the file. Users could even be presented with a list of possible options, complete with ratings from other users to help them make an informed choice about the software they install."

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Defending the flame of Linux freedom (TechRadar)

TechRadar interviews Max Spevack, former Fedora project leader and current manager of the Red Hat community architecture team. Spevack talks about the relationship between Fedora and RHEL as well as the value that the Fedora community provides, not just to Red Hat, but to the Linux community as a whole. "Fedora stands on its own as an operating system, and it just so happens that Fedora is upstream of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. No one is going to call Debian a beta of Ubuntu, but Debian is in many ways upstream for a lot of the Ubuntu packages in the same way that Fedora is upstream for a lot of the RHEL packages. That doesn't mean that one is a beta of the other."

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Distribution reviews

SimplyMEPIS: The best desktop Linux you haven't tried (Linux.com)

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reviews SimplyMEPIS. "Nowadays, everyone uses Ubuntu, most people have used Fedora, and many folks have tried openSUSE. SimplyMEPIS ... not so many. That's a shame, because this relatively obscure Debian-based desktop distribution from Morgantown, WV, is an outstanding desktop operating system. With SimplyMEPIS 8 at beta 5 and closing in on release, I tested the distribution and found it to be a keeper."

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Page editor: Rebecca Sobol
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