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Fedora developers have performed a catch and release with their beloved operating system, unleashing today the final cut of Fedora 7.

The new OS loses some of its sex appeal in that the Fedora team has focused more on form than function. For example, the "Core" designation (Fedora Core 5, Fedora Core 6) has been dropped from the OS name, leaving you with regular, old Fedora 7. That shift reflects a change in the Fedora model where the so-called "community" has moved away from Red Hat Corporate.

"On the one hand, Fedora is the upstream for all the Red Hat family of products, including things like Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS," said Max Spevack, the Fedora project leader and a Red Hat staffer, during a recent interview. "At the same time, Fedora is it's own Linux distribution that has its own goals and life completely independent of Red Hat or any real entity.

"From that perspective what Fedora 7 represents is the culmination of a couple years of work to really free Fedora in the sense that it can be completely independent and live on its own. The entire tool chain of Fedora is completely in the open now. So, hen you write your source code and put it in a file, you check that file to a CVS (concurrent version system). It's in an external CVS. To get commit access all you need to do is be a member of the Fedora community.

"Then, once you take all your files and you want to build an RPM, the build system is completely external as well. So you don't have to be a Red Hat employee to build an RPM."

This marks a change from a previous world that included both Fedora Core and Fedora Extras - the spot where developers built various packages. The Fedora project leaders noted that the vibrant Extras community had a better build system and better communications and decided to make the entire Fedora project "operate in that way," Spevack said.

"The consequence of this is that anyone with a little skill can run all the same tools and do all the same stuff that the Fedora release engineers do. So, if you are a college kid majoring in computer science, and you want to learn how the distro actually gets built, you can go follow the exact steps and see how your result stacks up."

Aside from opening up the development model, the Fedora developers obviously added a number of new features into the OS. You'll find a list of what did and didn't make it into the OS here.

Those unmoved by the present can already start thinking about the future with Fedora 8, which will kick into action in the next few weeks. Red Hat officials claim Fedora 8 will lay the groundwork for a desktop OS revolution. If you've yet to read about GOD, check this out.

Along with GOD, Spevack outlined a couple of Fedora 8 goals.

For one, the Fedora crew hopes to refine work on a GUI tool that makes it easier for people to pick and choose the packages they want in a given flavor of the OS. "It lets you select the package set you want and also decide if you want, for example, a live ISO or a bootable CD or a bootable USB key. It basically is just a wizard that non-engineers can use. This was developed completely by volunteers and is in a really good beta from right now."

In addition, Spevack hopes to extend the bootable USB technology by adding new partitioning and encryption tools for making use of spare space on a USB drive.

"Fedora 7 is going to be good. It's going to be quite accessible especially for developers who want to work on Fedora. It's going to be very usable from an end user perspective for someone who just wants something that works and wants a live CD," Spevack said.

"But, going into Fedora 8, I think we want to clean up all these news things on Fedora 7 and make them more solid and easier to use. The online desktop stuff we want to have landed in 8 too. Other than that, I'm not sure what other big features we're shooting for."

There's a handy Fedora 8 release schedule here. ®

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