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Fedora 'Spherical Cow' delayed by bugs, Secure Boot

Release pushed back until 2013

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Delays continue to plague development of the popular Fedora Linux distribution, with Fedora 18's original November ship date now pushed back to January 2013 at the earliest.

Ordinarily, the Fedora Project aims to ship a new version of the OS twice annually, with new releases arriving on the Tuesdays closest to May 1 and October 31 of each year.

Had all gone according to plan, that would have meant Fedora 18 – known to developers by the codename "Spherical Cow" – would have arrived this past Tuesday, November 6. But things haven't been going as planned for the Fedora Project for a while now, and Fedora 18's release data has slipped six times already, usually by a week each time.

During the most recent IRC-based meeting of the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo), however, the distribution's maintainers admitted that it might be best to give themselves a little more breathing room.

"The problem with moving from week to week is: do we have some kind of realistic way to estimate when we might be ready?" asked FESCo chairman Kevin Fenzi during the meeting. "I fear we don't."

The issue is that the current Fedora 18 source code still contains a number of "blocking bugs," so-called because they're deemed significant enough to interrupt the planned release schedule.

In particular, there are several outstanding bugs related to Anaconda, Fedora's GUI installer app, which has received a significant overhaul since the last release. Other problems involve fedup, a tool that allows users to upgrade their systems from earlier versions of Fedora.

"We could rename fedup to DukeNukemForever," quipped FESCo member Bill Nottingham, referring to the legendarily delayed videogame.

Currently, fedup only has one official developer, and it's not entirely clear how long it will take him to shore up the remaining blocker bugs.

And then there is the nagging issue of Windows 8's Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Secure Boot, which can block installation of Linux on newer PCs. In October, the Linux Foundation proposed a "stop-gap measure" that uses a Microsoft-authorized digital key to allow Linux to run, but the Fedora Project board insists on a solution that works without the Microsoft key.

After much discussion and faced with the choice between delaying the project again and "shipping junk," as one FESCo member termed it, the Committee agreed to move the Fedora 18 release date to January 8, 2013, giving developers an extra four weeks to work past the previously announced date.

If that release schedule can be met, when Fedora 18 finally arrives it will be two months late, the longest any Fedora release has been delayed so far.

That hasn't kept the Fedora Project from looking ahead, though. On Friday it announced that it is now accepting votes to select the release name of Fedora 19, the version that will come after "Spherical Cow." Curiously, among the eight names in the running we find "Higgs Boson," "Loch Ness Monster," and "Schrödinger's Cat" – all names of things that might exist, but might not. ®

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